“If you have a goal that your heart is set on, work hard, commit to it and you will get there even with all the curve balls life throws at you.”
Those are the words Maya Sulieman lives by and uses to motivate her everyday.
Maya is a first-generation student at Algonquin, enrolled in first year general arts and sciences – community studies. Her first semester was a success, as she passed all of her classes and to top it all off, got an A+ on one of her final essays.
Maya is just one of more than 3,800 full-time first-generation students enrolled at the college, an increase of 300 from fall 2014.
Maya was also among students entering the college for the first time in their family’s history, to use the First Generation Centre.
Martha Marr, a first-generation student herself and the manager of the centre relates to Maya and the other students who use her office every day.
‘‘When I was a first-generation student, I didn’t have the help or resources that are available to them today. I want to make sure that they know we are here for them and that they know what we have to offer.’’
The First Generation Centre has been available to students since 2013 and has helped many with the services they have to offer. One of the key services is provided by job coach Jennifer Beaudoin-Brandt.
‘‘I’m here to help students with building a resume, how to write cover letters and what to expect during interviews,’’ said Beaudouin-Brandt.
She helps by teaching them the basics of job searching, whether the students are looking for a part-time job, an internship or just to get volunteer experience. ‘‘Some of these students have never had jobs before and I’m here to help them no matter which goals they want to achieve.’’
The staff also provides services such as tutoring and mentoring and organized events before and during the semester. They also invite guest speakers such as Gabrielle Scrimshaw, an Aboriginal first-generation student, to talk about their experiences.
There are a lot of successful first-generation students in today’s world. People like Barack and Michelle Obama were first-generation students. Celebrities such as John Legend and Oprah Winfrey were also first-generation students.
Martha Marr believes that these students can change more than just their lives by pursuing post-secondary education.