For first generation student Hunter Mast, the decision to attend college was not one he made alone.
“My parents really pushed for me to go to college. My dad works in a factory and he’s an operations manager but he’s told me one of his biggest regrets is not going to college,” Mast said. “It's something they did not want me to miss out on.”
Mast chose to pursue computer science because of his natural abilities with computers. At Trevecca, he has had the opportunity to develop those skills and apply them to the real world.
“Being at Trevecca has pushed me forward to learn computer science in the way where I feel like I could get a job wherever I needed to,” Mast said. “I had an internship over the summer working with software engineering for RVs. I felt very prepared.”
Being a first generation student has had its challenges, and at times early on Mast struggled.
“There's stuff I had to figure out, like directed studies and choosing classes, that none of my family could help me with,” Mast said. “So I go to people I know here and other resources I can find.”
Trevecca gives first generation freshmen the chance to get support from upperclassmen who were in their shoes just a few short years before. Mast is now one of those first generation mentors, as is Jessica Bishop, a senior mathematics major.
“As a first generation student, I was clueless coming in. If I hadn’t had my older teammates for guidance, I would have been hopeless,” Bishop said. “I hope to be that same stress reliever for the first generation students who may be in the same situation.”
Bishop came to Trevecca on a cross country scholarship and hopes to work in marketing or data analytics. She knows firsthand how challenging college can be as a first generation student but the satisfaction of achieving her goals has kept her motivated.
“I know it will all be worth it when I can look back and say I was a college graduate and I did it on my own,” Bishop said.
Similarly, Mast knows going to college will have a massive impact on his future. He is already looking at how his education can help his family.
“With computer science, I can make money and help support my family if I need to,” Mast said. “My dad’s work wears on his body and I would like to give him the opportunity to retire early. I also have a younger brother who’s 16, and I’m helping him learn what he needs to do to be successful in college.”
Mast and Bishop are two of many first generation students that call Trevecca home. That number has been growing, and for the 2022-2023 academic year more than 40 percent of incoming freshmen were the first in their families to attend college.