November 29, 2022

Utica Campus hosts First-Generation Celebration

“There are times when I want to give up, but I remind myself that I am here to set standards for my younger family members.”
BY: Paisley Boston

Hinds hosted its inaugural First-Generation Celebration on Nov. 7 at the Utica Campus to highlight the lives of students who were the first to attend college in their families.

During the event, six students served as panelists to discuss their unique perspectives on higher education and their challenges while attending college.

“The biggest challenge for me is to remain focused,” Harry Craft of Utica said. “There are times when I want to give up, but I remind myself that I am here to set standards for my younger family members.”

Above: First-generation college students served as guest panelists during the First Generation Celebration. Pictured from left to right are Toriun Versell (Clarksdale), Lauren Gateia (Terry), IAyesha Evans (Utica), Harry Craft (Utica), and Tracey Gray (Jackson).

This one-day event was hosted by Title III, TRIO and other sponsored programs in collaboration with the Division of Student Services. It showcased resources and activities spearheaded by various departments throughout the Hinds system to address the needs of first-generation students.

Through the college’s Federal TRIO Programs, students receive assistance with a full range of financial aid programs, benefits and resources for locating public and private scholarships. The program also offers academic advising, career services, cultural enrichment, financial literacy, laptop loans, peer mentors and tutoring/intervention services.

Toriun Versell of Clarksdale said the services offered by the college have not only strengthened him as an individual but also enabled him to have a sense of pride. “I dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, but I was able to ‘drop in’ to Hinds,” he said. “I decided to attend college because I felt I had something to prove to myself and my mom.”

When asked to advise future students, Tracy Gray of Jackson said, “Don’t stop. Prioritize your time and familiarize yourself with the resources around you.”

After the panel discussion, students were prompted to provide their signatures on a banner titled “Plan to be Successful.” The signatures served as pledges to complete their studies at Hinds and their goals.

The day also featured music, treats and games so that students could learn more about services offered at the Utica Campus.

Pictured from left to right are Lauren Gateia (Terry), Sharlene Brown (Jackson), Sherry Bellmon (Brandon), IAyesha Evans (Utica), Jerrica Holder (Utica), back row, from left to right are Toriun Versell (Clarksdale), Harry Craft (Utica), Brodrick Thompson Jr. (McComb), Damian D. Thomas (Jackson), Tracey Gray (Jackson), Shamari Johnson (Jackson) and Demetri Jones (Jackson).