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MSU-WP marks First-Generation College Celebration Day


On Nov. 8, Missouri State University-West Plains joined hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation in celebrating its “first generation” students (students who are the first in their families to attend college) as part of the National First-Generation College Celebration Day.

The day was set aside in 2017 by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success to commemorate the signing of the Higher Education Act in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which created federal financial aid programs and made key investments in colleges and universities.

As part of MSU-WP’s celebration, university officials shared profiles of some of its first-generation students on social media. Below is Hannah Smith’s profile. The Alton resident is pursuing an Associate of Science in Agriculture degree at MSU-WP.

Why did you choose to attend MSU-WP? I can follow my passion of agriculture while still being able to maintain a job and family.

How would you describe your experience at MSU-WP? Good. I have made some great friends and connections here. 

What has been your favorite thing about MSU-WP? The faculty and how most of them will help you succeed in any way they can.

What has been your favorite course? And why? Definitely “The Old Testament” (REL 101). I have been in church my whole life, but actually digging into the context and connections has been a very fun class.

How have faculty and staff helped you during your time at MSU-WP? They have been very helpful in choosing steps that will advance me into my career. I have had great professors give me great encouragement and critiques on how to perfect certain things.

How did you choose your major? I have always loved anything to do with agriculture. I live on a five-generation working farm in Alton, the Crescent R. I have grown up around horses and currently train and barrel race under my husband and I’s brand, Spurin’ Smith. 

What have you learned from agriculture department that will help you succeed in your education, career or life? I have learned various things from my time here from the agriculture department. I have already made many connections and have learned a lot about networking within the industry. I am more on the nutrition and animal side of agriculture; however, I highly recommend taking a class from Samantha Osborn. I have learned so much about the plant side and networking from her, as well.

As a first-generation college student, what are some challenges you have faced? It is a challenge to balance a full-time job, family, farm, house, etc. and then throw school on top; however, I really buckled down and have great support from my family. Being able to juggle all of this, and still be able to make the chancellor’s list every semester, has really showed me that if you really want something, you can make it happen. Not only that but if you are going to put the time into something, like assignments, then you may as well make it the best that you can 

What are your plans after graduation? I plan to continue school for my bachelor’s degree majoring in agri-business and and minoring in agriculture education. I hope to get the opportunity to work at a Missouri Extension office to help my community and share the knowledge I have obtained.