First Gen Proud Directory

First-generation faculty and staff are invited to join the First Gen Proud registry, as are allies who were not first generation themselves but want to support first-generation students.

Fill out the First Gen Proud Registry Google form

We also invite all students, faculty, and staff to add FIRST GEN PROUD to your email signature.

Tara Allen

Teaching Professor, Division of Biological & Biomedical Systems School of Science & Engineering
Email: allent@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Ask for help early and often. Don't be afraid to go visit your faculty at their office hours or make appointments with your advisor and mentors.We want to help but it is harder for us to do that if you don't come to see us and/or share how are you doing. UMKC is full of incredible mentors ready and focused on helping students succeed! We are ROOting for you!

I am First Gen Proud because: My 18-year-old self would never have imagined that I would earn a Ph.D. and have a job teaching the courses that I do today. I am proud of the fact that when I encountered challenges that I didn't give up and instead learned from my mistakes. I believe I am where I am today because of the support I received from others along with hard work, grit and a growth mindset.

Amber Andrews

Senior Academic Advisor, Roo Advising
Email: Amber.Andrews@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Do not be afraid to ask question when you don't know something. Do not be afraid to try something new, try something you are unfamiliar with, and to try something that is out of your norm.

I am First Gen Proud because: After I graduated, other members of my family were inspired to go to college.

Becky Bergman

Manager, Roo Advising
Email: bergmanr@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos: Be active in student groups.

I am First Gen Proud because: Proud to be the first in my family to earn a degree, and to have reached the Master's level.

Jessica Pearson

Director, Academic Support and Mentoring
Email: jpearson@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: I did not receive address and I also did not ask for any, so in hindsight I would encourage myself to ask questions and not be afraid of not knowing. The truth is, most folks have the same questions and asking them can help build connections and community on campus.

I am First Gen Proud because: Being the example to others that I wish I had.

Chainy Folsom

Senior Advisor HBEJ MAP, Roo Advising
Email: folsomc@umkc.edu

(He/him/his)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Ask questions.

I am First Gen Proud because: If I can do it so can you.

Erin Gauer

Sr. Academic Advisor, Roo Advising
Email: erin.gauer@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: I'm happy I found ways to connect with peers and professors outside of the classroom through student organizations or events on campus.

I am First Gen Proud because: I'm excited that there is more recognition and resources for First Generation student to support their success!

Scott Guerrero

STAHR Program Director | School of Medicine
Email: guerreros@umkc.edu

(He/him/his)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Don't be afraid to ask for help! And get involved!

I am First Gen Proud because: My mom never finished high school and my dad never went to college. This wasn't an option for them at the time nor was it an option for many individuals in the area in which we grew up. With 5 siblings, I am the only one to have a bachelor's degree. I am on my way to completed my second masters degree, from UMKC!

Tracey Hughes

Teaching & Learning Librarian; Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University Libraries
Email: hughest@umkc.edu

 

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: As a librarian, I'd say to make the library your new best friend! We have resources that can be accessed on and off campus, we've increased our available study space, and we've got librarians and staff who can answer your questions and get you on the path to success with your research!

Lorena Juanez

Admissions Counselor
Email: lorenajuanez@umkc.edu

 

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Ask questions. Get a mentor. Take advantage of opportunities around you but most of all have fun! College is also supposed to be fun but education first!

Kim Kushner

Assistant Director, New Student and Family Programs
Email: kushnerkim@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Ask for help. Advocate for yourself and what you need.

I am First Gen Proud because: I am the first in my family to pursue a terminal degree (along with my bachelors and masters degrees), and my parents are very proud of me. I love helping other first gen students in any way possible achieve their dreams.

Alicen Lundberg

Senior Coordinator for Academic and Student Programs, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Email: lundberga@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Hold true to your core values, because then you can always be genuinely yourself, no matter the situation. And understand those values might shift in ways, large and small, as you experience more outside your familiar frame of reference.

I am First Gen Proud because: First generation students come from such a wide array of backgrounds and having this identity give us a link to grow relationships with each other and grow a community together.

Nick Mathews

Assistant Professor, Communication and Journalism
Email: nmathews@umkc.edu

(He/him/his)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Get to know your professors — they WANT to get to know you and help you!

I am First Gen Proud because: I am so proud that I was able to succeed as a First-Gen and pave the way for others in my family.

Youssef Mekawy

Career Coach
Email: ymekawy@umkc.edu

(He/him/his)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Take initiative, be flexible, and always ready to learn. Today's career requirements are developing quickly and it requires an adaptable and agile mindset to develop.

I am First Gen Proud because: Accomplishing my career goal

Mako Miller

Director, Professional Mobility Escalators; UMKC Alumni
Email: mako.miller@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: I would say don't be afraid to ask questions even if you're fearful of sounding, for lack of a better term, "dumb." I didn't want people to know I was struggling or that I didn't know what I was doing, so I rarely asked for help. No one before you has had this experience, so of course you won't know everything (even if you're not first-gen you won't know everything). So ask questions, ask for help! That's what manny of us are here for.

I am First Gen Proud because: I come from a multiracial family who understood the importance of college but did not attend college themselves. My father joined the military after high school and my mother immigrated to the U.S. from Japan. I knew I wanted to go to college but had no idea what that meant. Luckily, I had a great admissions representative that was able to help me through the process, including helping me with the FAFSA. When I got campus I had no idea what I was doing, but luckily made friends in my residence hall and found ways to get involved. What was frustrating sometimes is trying to talk about both the good and challenging things happening but my parents not fully understanding because they didn't have that experience. They were extremely supportive but couldn't offer advice on how to navigate college. Fortunately, I found mentors and a great support system that helped me find resources and opportunities to develop.

Kathleen Moburg

Academic Support, UMKC School of Medicine
Email: moburgk@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: learn which resources are available and utilize them.

I am First Gen Proud because: My family sacrificed to provide the opportunity for a life-changing education

Lee Moore

Assistant Professor School of Law
Email: moorelee@umkc.edu

 

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: I would explore and be open to course work outside your initial major.

I am First Gen Proud because: My parents did not attend college. I attended Ohio State for undergrad and UMKC Law for my JD.

Julie Myer

Coordinator of International Admissions, ISAO
Email: myerj@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Find a classmate or member of faculty or staff that you connect with that can encourage you and advise you sometimes. Don't give up easily. If you don't find that person right away, keep trying. There is definitely someone on campus who will benefit from knowing you, and you will benefit from knowing them.

I am First Gen Proud because: It feels good to learn more and expand my horizons. I have wonderful roots that I love, and they keep me grounded as I branch out into new experiences, friends, and learning.

Ashley Nance

Professional Development Manager, Bloch Career Center
Email: amnance@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My best advice for First Gen Roos would be: Ask questions – I know that I never knew about certain resources until it was too late – ask friends, professors, advisors, classmates, etc about resources on campus and take advantage of them!

Ken Novak

Professor, Criminal Justice & Criminology
Email: novakk@umkc.edu

(He/him/his)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Make connections with faculty and staff - they are there to help you! And make sure you take advantage of academic advising - don't try to go it alone.

I am First Gen Proud because: First generation college students are bold risk takers - it is exciting to be part of this exciting group.

Joseph Parisi

Curators' Distinguished Professor, Conservatory
Email: parisijo@umkc.edu

(He/him/his)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Be patient, be vulnerable, and be open-minded.

I am First Gen Proud because: I am proud to have been in a family that valued education and made it an important part of my life. Although they could not directly help me with academics, they did help me realize my passions for music and teaching. I am thankful to pass this love onward and especially proud that I was the first to receive a terminal degree in my profession.

Destiny Delgado Peterson

Career Coach
Email: d.peterson@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Visit with Career Services frequently to be sure you are taking the steps necessary to land your dream job. It is never too early to visit with a Career Coach.

I am First Gen Proud because: I was able to raise the bar for future generations

Sandy Rodriguez

Associate Dean of Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries
Email: rodriguezsan@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Find your community. Whether it's within your academic discipline, student organizations, study groups, or any spaces where you connect with others, your community will support you through challenges, celebrate your accomplishments and milestones, and sustain you throughout your academic career.

I am First Gen Proud because: I am where I am because of my parents' struggles and sacrifices. I have choices that they did not because of the education I was able to pursue. While they could not provide advice or guidance through my first gen experience, they gave me motivation and strength as I carried their stories with me throughout my college education. My own story is deeply intertwined with theirs, and I believe in the power of connecting with others to share these stories and recognize that we're not alone.

Jen Salvo

Head of Resource Sharing (Librarian II)
Email: salvoj@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Sometimes you might wish you could turn to your family for advice or financial help with your college experience and some of your families may not be in a situation where they can help you. If that’s your case, you might feel alone in your circumstances, and it can be really tough. I remember the days when I had to choose between studying and working at a part-time job just so I could afford to eat while seeing other students around me who never faced those choices. Please know that there are literally hundreds of people working at UMKC who really care about you. This is why we have a Writing Studio to help you become a better writer, counseling, health, and fitness centers to help with your mental and physical well-being, and a food pantry and other services to help when you are struggling. And when you don’t know where to turn or don’t know where to start, the library is an excellent place to find people who can connect you with information and resources (it’s our job!).

Michelle Smirnova

Associate Professor, Sociology
Email: smirnovam@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Go to office hours, connect with your professors, they want to meet you and hear your story.

I am First Gen Proud because: I am proud that I connected with other people going through similar challenges and how I learned that I was not alone.

Madi Smith

STAHR Program Manager
Email: madisonsmith@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Own your story and know that it's okay to create a path for yourself that's different from what others expect of you.

I am First Gen Proud because: I am proud to be first-gen because it signifies all that I have accomplished and all that I still have yet to achieve. I am also proud to be the evidence of all the effort and dedication of my family and other supporters that have helped me get to where I am today.

Cindy Thompson

Dean of Libraries; School of Education Alumnus
Email: thompsoncym@umkc.edu

(She/her/hers)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Ask for help! I felt like I had to do everything on my own, and would have saved a lot of time and stress if I had just asked my advisors, faculty, librarians, or even other students for help when I needed it!

Heidi Updike

Office Support Assistant IV
Email: updikeh@umkc.edu

 

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: Study hard but have fun. Set goals. Get involved! There is always something going on at UMKC. Seek out organizations that you have an interest in and those organizations that you don't have an interest in. You never know unless you try. Something new and exciting is awaiting for you right around the corner.

Jerry Wyckoff

Professor and Chair, Div. Pharmacology and Pharm. Sciences; Director of Research and Graduate Studies
Email: wyckoffg@umkc.edu

(He/him/his)

My advice for First Gen Roos would be: You absolutely get out of college what you put into it. Take advantage of every opportunity you can, because you will never be as empowered to grow, learn, and -yes, sometimes- fail, as you are in college.