My name is Michelle Dankle. I am a first year student in the on campus Student Affairs Administration Program. I was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania (I love chocolate) but lived in Burlington, Wisconsin from the time I was 2 years old. I attended the University of Iowa for undergrad and just graduated this past May with a bachelors in Communication Studies and Sociology. While at Iowa, I was very involved in the Admissions Office. My various jobs there as an admissions host, tour guide, and admissions representative, in addition to the awesome people that I worked with, helped me decide that Student Affairs is what I want to do.
I am a graduate assistant in the Academic Advising Office at UW-L. Here, I advise first-year undecided major students. So far I have helped with spring semester course selection and some beginning major exploration. Next semester I will dive more into the major exploration with my students and help them find something they are passionate about. I love working with and making connections with these students. Additionally, next semester I will do a 1 semester practicum at the Admissions Office at Viterbo University. I am excited to work and gain experience within a university type that I am not familiar with.
I decided to enroll in this 720 course because I honestly do not know much about the first-generation student experience. My family is a little unique in the fact that my entire immediate family all attended the University of Iowa and so did a lot of my extended family as well. I guess you could say we "bleed black and gold." When it came time for me to apply and go to college not only did I have help with the entire college process, but I had very specific help for Iowa and a brother that was currently a junior there. With this I recognize that I am a privileged individual. Through this class I want to learn more about the experiences of first-generation students and ways that I can better reach out and serve them. This will be very helpful in my academic advising role because I already know that a few of my students do identify as first-generation. Additionally, I would like to take what I will learn from this class and hopefully apply it next semester if I get the opportunity to co-teach a UWL 100 class.
Something that I believe to be true about first-generation college students is that pre-college advising and help from professionals would help set them up to be more successful in their first year of college and beyond. Back at Iowa, in my role as an admissions representative, I would attend high school college fairs and talk to students about all different aspects of college. I noticed multiple times that some students were confused by terms like "credit," "course," "major," "FAFSA," "office hours," ect. I then thought back and realized that if my mom would not have attended college and explained to me what all these terms meant then I too would have been confused. Sandria Rodriguez discusses in her article titled "What Helps Some First-Generation Student Succeed" that "colleges and K–12 schools can build partnerships to ensure that students from undereducated backgrounds do not fall through the academic cracks." I believe having a college advisor at high schools and building a collaborative relationship between k-12 and college is crucial in helping all students, especially first-generation students, start out on the right foot in college.
Rodriguez, S. (2003). What Helps Some First-Generation Students Succeed? About Campus, 8(4), 17-22.