Defying the odds. It's a phrase some first-generation students use to describe their journey to college.  Southeast Missouri State is currently home to more than 3,800 students who are the first in their immediate family to go to college. Stepping outside your comfort zone and blazing a trail can be a scary and confusing process. And, incredibly rewarding.

First Generation Taking Charge of their Future

  • 300

    Graduates (Dec. 2021)

    Southeast is proud to have 300 first-generation students graduating this winter semester. We can't wait to watch them soar!

  • 39%

    First-Gen Students

    Southeast is honored to serve the over 3,800 first-gen students who are currently on campus.

  • 1

    First-Generation President

    Dr. Carlos Vargas is the 18th president of SEMO, and his wife Pam Vargas is the director of research and grant development. Both are proud first-generation college graduates!

With some encouragement from his great uncle, Andrew Miller rose to the challenge and completed his college education, becoming the first in his family to receive a college degree. In this video, listen to Andrew discuss the challenges he encountered along the way and what it means to him to be a first generation Redhawk.

Andrew’s story is inspiring for many reasons, but one reason in particular stands out within the SEMO community: he’s not alone. Thousands of other students have overcome their own challenges to become new graduates within their families. Hear from a few others about their first generation experience and why being a college graduate matters.

Being a first-generation student can mean a lot of things, but I feel that it makes going to college a more rewarding experience. Being a first-generation student has its disadvantages — you don’t have the guidance of a parent or parents who personally earned a degree and experienced the ups and downs of college, for example. However, I feel as though it makes the things you do accomplish as a student more rewarding, as you’ve overcome that disadvantage and still achieved what you set out to do.

Tanner Counts

Being a first-generation student, I had to work a little harder and I didn’t have the typical ‘college experience.’ I took full-time classes and commuted to/from class every day, all while working around 30 hours a week. I have personally paid for everything, and I will graduate debt-free.

Brianna Amschler

People need to see the success. They need to see men and women who are doing what they want to do or have been around the things that they want to do. I feel they need to actually see and witness somebody who has been somewhere that they are trying to go.

Charles Blackmon

Supporting First Generation

As we have learned from our own alumni it takes time, talent and treasure to help support students. Just like you were supported during your time, it is now your time to help the next generation.