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Pedro Rodriguez.
Finding a New Home
Gracey Saavedra, Staff Writer • November 17, 2023

  UMKC senior and finance major Pedro Rodiguez knows first-hand how difficult it can be to assimilate into a new university.    As a...

The Epperson House is closed to visitors, but can be seen from the distance around campus.
The Spooky History of the Castle on Campus
Aurora Wilson, Lifestyle and Culture Editor • October 31, 2023

  Located at the corner of Cherry and 52 St., the Epperson House looms over UMKC’s campus, haunting students who dare to walk past it.    Construction...

Dr. Villamandos and Dr. Grieco in front of Sancho Panza in the Twentieth Century
UC Berkeley Art Historian To Speak on Historic Haag Murals
Lauren Zoller, Staff Writer • October 30, 2023

  A University of California Berkeley art historian will present her research on Luis Quintanilla, a world-renowned artist whose murals have...

Tayler and the cast sit as they prepare for more filming.
You Are Now Leaving Godly
Lydia Schneider, Staff Writer • October 20, 2023

  Tayler Gilbert, UMKC senior and professional photographer, is putting the final touches on his new film, “Welcome to Godly.”    Gilbert...

Abigail Weiler holds her business card.
Clayful by Abbie
Gracey Saavedra, Staff Writer • October 18, 2023

 Abigail Weiler, fourth-year political science and French major at UMKC, delivers confidence in the form of handmade polymer clay jewelry.    Her...

First Gen Roo’s Kickoff Event Hosts Former Obama Administration Aide and “First Gen” Author

Alejandra Campoverdi Brings Trailblazing and Intergenerational Healing to UMKC on Her National Book Tour
Lauren Zoller
After being the first person in her family to navigate college and overcoming imposter syndrome, Campoverdi shares her story to help people and women along their path.

  UMKC’s First Gen Roo program kicked off its National First Generation Celebration by hosting author Alejandra Campoverdi on Oct. 24 in the Student Union Theatre.

  On the first leg of her book tour, the women’s health advocate and former White House aide to President Barack Obama spoke on her new memoir “First Gen” and her experiences of being Latina and a first-generation college student.

  “I really felt like I connected with her already by just reading the book,” said senior pre-dental hygiene student and event attendee, Jazmin Barahona. “We had a lot of similarities we could connect to. We’re first-generation students, Latinas and we both grew up with a single mother.”

  Campoverdi spoke with Dr. Toya Like about her path of getting into college and navigating her experience as the first person in her family to do so. She eventually attended the University of Southern California and later Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.   

  “Sometimes I feel like ‘Oh God!’” Campoverdi said. “I have to be responsible for going to school first– breaking intergenerational trauma– it feels like it’s a lot. What helped me make sense of it is actually in the book. One of the nicest reviews that’s been said about this book is that it’s a resource, which is really what I wrote it for.”

  Many first-generation students experience imposter syndrome and isolation during their time in college.

Antwone Moore (top) poses with fellow First-Gen Roo coworkers. (Lauren Zoller)

  “They say when you’re skating on thin ice, your speed is your safety, and a lot of times the first-gen experience feels like that,” Campoverdi said. “If you’re moving and trying to survive, and you’re also coming from cycles of survival  in your family, taking a moment and acknowledging your actual lived experience can feel like a radical act and can feel like something that we haven’t had space to do.”

  Nearly half of all undergraduate students at UMKC are considered first-generation. First-time college students who are first-generation make up 54.3% of UMKC’s population. 

  “For me, it’s really just about all the nuances of navigating college life for the first time,” said Antwone Moore, a First Gen Roo mentor and a music education major. “The only analogy I can come up with is that it’s like breaking a glass barrier. You don’t know how hard it is until you get here and you see how easy everyone else has it.”

  Moore was part of UMKC’s First Gen Scholars program, which is designed for incoming first-time college students to be mentored by peers to gain support and insight into campus resources. He later became a mentor for the program. 

  “We celebrate our first gens and it’s a badge of honor that we wear. Other students might think that there’s a stigma around being first gen,” said Megan Elsen, associate director of academic support and mentoring. “But instead, we kind of flip that and celebrate it. We want everyone to know that we’re first gen.”

  Throughout November, UMKC’s First Gen Roo program is hosting events for National First Generation College Student Celebration. To learn more about First Gen Roo events, click here.

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