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Meet Dilpreet Kaur: Member of DePaul's first Generation Success cohort

Generation Success
DePaul's first cohort of the Generation Success initiative began in fall 2019. (Image courtesy of Dilpreet Kaur)

Many young people struggle when they leave home for college and experience life as first-year students. However, for first generation students, the transition to college can be exponentially more difficult.

“First generation students often have no one to refer to when they feel lost at school, especially at a big university like DePaul," says Dilpreet Kaur, a junior majoring in political science with a minor in sociology and member of the university's Generation Success program. “Navigating resources and trying to find the right connections can be extremely hard."

DePaul's Dilpreet Kaur is a junior majoring in political science with a minor in sociology and member of the university's inaugural Generation Success program cohort.
Dilpreet Kaur is a junior majoring in political science with a minor in sociology and member of the university's inaugural Generation Success program cohort. (Image courtesy of Dilpreet Kaur)

At DePaul, approximately one in three students are “first generation," or the first in their families to earn a college degree. According to a 2018 NASPA press release, only 27 percent of first generation students nationally complete their degree in four years.

In light of these numbers, as well as DePaul's mission to serve first-generation college students, the Office of Multicultural Student Success expanded its first-generation college student support system through the Generation Success initiative. The university launched the program in fall 2019, and Kaur joined the inaugural Generation Success cohort.

“Generation Success aims to create a safe space, and provide a sense of community and belonging to new students learning to navigate college on their own," says Kimberly Mua, the staff professional for Kaur's Generation Success Discover Chicago class

Program participants not only take a Discover Chicago class together, but also are paired with a STARS Peer Mentor. Students in the cohort engage with first-generation staff and faculty mentors. They also are eligible for stipends of up to $500 per year.

The program is critical for Kaur and her peers because oftentimes there are no family members with college experience who can guide them through the ups and downs of the first year on campus.

“Having a space where first-generation college students can share and come together helps make their transition easier," says Alondra Nino, the student mentor from Kaur's Discover class. “In this process, they create a community where they can find support and understanding, and have others to lean on."

When Kaur heard about the program, she thought it would be a great way to ease into DePaul.

“Little did I know it would soon become the most valuable experience I would be a part of all year," Kaur says. “It can be easy to feel isolated in new situations at such a large institution, but through Generation Success, I have been able to always find a place or a person to go to."

First-generation college students also often face pressure from their families to do well and represent their families with their achievements.

“Sometime we have so much pressure from our families to be the best because we represent not just ourselves, but our family through our achievements and downfalls," Kaur says. “Programs like Generation Success are important because through kinship and support they help take some of that weight off of our shoulders."

Kaur recommends the program to any students considering Generation Success.

“The initiative provides a strong, supportive foundation for students," she says. “It can provide a community for you throug hout your time at DePaul and help open doors for other new experiences."

“Generation Success not only provides additional support and guidance for university resources, it also helps students build a sense of community and belonging at DePaul," says Kimberly Everett, director of OMSS. “All students are given the tools they need for success."​

More information about Generation Success here.