SAA 720: First Generation Students Katie Butzen

About Me:

My name is Katie Butzen. I am a second year student in the Student Affairs Administration program. I finished my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2014. I studied Sociology in Germany during Spring of 2015, then came back to La Crosse for the SAA graduate program.

My Graduate Assistant site is within Academic Advising where I advise first- and second-year exploring students. I absolutely love my position within the advising center, but I have many varied interests. I have worked at Western Technical College and Viterbo University within their Career Services offices. My most recent internship experience was with the La Crosse Promise Future Centers, where I assisted high school students with their post high school goals.

I would also love to introduce you to some of the greatest influences on my Academic, Career, and life goals.

This is Brody, my black lab. He has to stay at home because my house in La Crosse doesn't allow dogs, but I every time I go back to my parent's house, he is there waiting to cheer me up. (I also Skype him...a lot!).
This is my mom. I have called her so many times during the course of this program, and every time she picks me back up. I probably wouldn't be here without her.

So that is a bit about me.

I am particularly interested in this course because I was given the opportunity to work with first generation college students by co-teaching a UWL 100 (transition to college course) with only first-generation students. The class was designed partially by Dr. Timothy Dale and I, but we also allowed the students design the course to allow them an opportunity to learn how/why curriculums are built. The UWL 100 course was the first spark of my interest in first-generation college students.

UWL as a whole is beginning an initiative called "Reimagining the First Year". There are many committee members and a multi-faceted approach to helping college students within the first year. "Reimagining the First Year" is not specific to assisting first-generation college students, but I believe there are some objectives specific for the first-generation population.

I have done some research on first-generation college students and have found the following statements to be mostly true:

1. First-generation students have been noted in research to achieve lower academic achievement in comparison to non first-generation students. (Engle, 2007).

2. Much of the research on first-generation college students is skewed because multiple identities of first-generation students are not taken into consideration, or are assumed. (For example, low-income and first-generation are often seen as lumped together within major research, however, researchers may not consider how identifies such as a person of color and a first-generation student intersect.) --This is through looking at research and also through conversations with professors and classmates.

After these two points, I don't like to assume much more about first-generation students, because every student is unique, and what may be truth for one student may not be for another.

I had the opportunity to design a Conference Proposal for Tori's Advising and Supporting class where I was able to find some very interesting articles. I will include the links here: and

Last Remarks:

I am very interested in this course because I would like to learn more about first-generation students as a population. In addition, I would like to learn more about how to assist this population because first-generation may be an invisible identity.

This course and helping first-generation students scares me because I am a very privileged individual. Although my dad never went to college, my mother has her Masters in Education. My mom was able to help me through so many steps. I am worried I will not be able to connect to students and/or unknowingly ignore important details that may not seem important to me. I am hoping this course will help me be more cognizant.

Looking forward to having class with you!!


DeFeitas, S. C., and Rinn, A. (2013). Academic achievement in first generation college students: The role of academic self-concept. Journal of the scholarship of teaching and learning, 13(1), 57-67

Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary access and success for first generation college students. American Academic, 3(1), 25-48. Retrieved from

Morales, E. E. (2011). Navigating new worlds: A real-time look at how success and non successful first-generation college students negotiate their first semesters. International Journal of Higher Education, 1(1), 90-101. Retrieved from


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