First Gen College Celebration!

Posted on November 9th, 2020 by

Celebrate FirstGenThe Library celebrates our first generation Gustavus students on the occasion of the National First Generation College Celebration. We’re here to support you on your journey!

Messages from first generation faculty & staff at the Library:

Dan Mollner, Librarian & Associate Professor   “I am a first generation student. My father went for one year, but had to drop out because of the Great Depression.  That was 50 years before I went to school.  It was tough.  I didn’t know what to expect.  My sisters had gone to small colleges and were not in a position to help me. So, I was totally lost at the UofM.  My parents were as lost as I was. But, I asked a lot of questions of advisors, counselors and instructors who helped me in so many ways.  We are here for you and we want you to succeed!”

Melissa Perron, Metadata & ILS Manager –  Don’t be afraid to seek out help. I didn’t realize how much easier college could have been for me if I would have known where to find resources for first generation students. I attended the University of Minnesota in the 90s and looking back on that experience I realize now how much I floundered. It took me longer than most to graduate, I struggled figuring out the loan process and I really did not know how to declare a major or find an advisor. It can be challenging when your family does not know the ins and outs of the college experience but there are so many people at Gustavus willing to help out.

Jeannie Peterson, Library Operations Coordinator   “I was a first generation college student in my family.  My dad was a farmer/rancher; my mom a homemaker/ranch hand until my dad passed away.  After his passing, she moved into town and sought certification to be a CNA at our hometown nursing home. As we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, I also joined the South Dakota Army National Guard to assist with my college tuition, which it did…tremendously! Evan and I married (what many today would consider very young, I was 20 and he was 22); we finished our college education together working part-time jobs as well as the military.

In retrospect, it was a lot of work and we were always busy, but the doors a college education opens up for a graduate is well worth the long nights of doing homework jacked up on Mt. Dew or taking the extra shifts when everyone else is on Spring Break.  We are both extremely grateful for where we are today, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally; as a whole, I believe a college education is a phenomenal base to start any career in life. Keep at it, First Generation Gusties…there’s a reason you are here today!”

Sonja Timmerman ’98, Interlibrary Loan Manager “Our sole purpose here as staff and faculty is to equip students to succeed, no matter what our role – ask for help early and seek guidance often!”

Leah Zacate, Information Desk & Assets Specialist – “I am a first generation college student/graduate (Bethany Lutheran College 2017). First generation college students/graduates are the product of the hard work and sacrifices of our parents. We are the children who have fulfilled our parents’ dream. We are the vessel of hope for those of similar economic status, and diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds.”




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