November 8th is National First-Generation College Student Day. We would love to take this opportunity to celebrate some of our first-generation students and get to know their stories.

“One thing we do to support first-generation students is provide a workshop in the beginning of the year to give students and families successful college tips and connections to CUW people,” said CUW’s Dean of Students Steve Gerner. “They leave the event with vital information and know at least three people they can turn to when an obstacle arises.”

About 15% of our undergraduate student body is made up of first-generation students, and 33% of our accelerated undergraduate student body is first-gen. Concordia recognizes that these students are forging a new path with their families and we strive to equip them with the tools they need to be successful here and beyond.

Lucas Regnier

Grad year: 2024

Major: Physical Education K-12

Hometown: Bradley, Illinois

Why Concordia?

Honestly, a lot of it had to do with the fact that Coach Koch, CUW’s head wrestling coach, contacted me. Coach said I had potential and believed in me. Also, the education program here at Concordia is phenomenal.

I want to be a wrestling coach after I graduate. I want to go back home and help kids in my area. Bradley is a tough town and I just want to be able to help kids learn and develop as young human beings through sports rather than see them suffering. That’s what wrestling did for me and my twin brother. We’ve been wrestling since we were 4 years old, so wrestling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

What motivates you to be the first in your family to earn a college degree?

Well, me and my brother are tackling college at the same time. He goes to another college so he’s not here on campus with me but he’s a big support in my life. For both of us, our grandfather was the biggest role model in our lives. He was our best friend. He got us into wrestling. He passed away about five years ago now, but for us to do good for him is like the best gift we could ever give him. He’d be proud of us for going to college.

I have a lot of support at Concordia, too. Honestly, it’s been a really rough past few years for me and I had a rough childhood, but I feel like I’m finally seeing a bit of success now that I’m at Concordia. I have a girlfriend who goes to Concordia and she and her family are a huge support to me. Coach Koch, he’s been my biggest supporter outside of my girlfriend, and Assistant Coach Alex is like a big brother to me.

DJ Ford

Grad year: 2023

Major: Psychology and Spanish minor

Hometown: Gardena, California

Why Concordia?

Honestly, I was offered a good amount of aid to attend here. I wanted to go out of state and I didn’t have many options that were out of state. I liked the small class sizes here and it was just something different, new, and refreshing, and I felt like I needed a fresh start.

Concordia introduced me to so many different people who gave me opportunities to lead and to learn from other people. It helped me grow into the person I am. Being the president of the Black Student Union and vice president of Psychology club have been such great opportunities for personal growth. Dr. Tuffe, and Dr. Pitchford are two of many professors who have taken the time to help me succeed here.

What motivates you to be the first in your family to earn a college degree?

My drive comes from helping others see their potential. I want to show them how they can overcome any obstacles they come across in life. Earning a degree will show people they can overcome any adversity they face. I want to show my family and people from my hometown they can do anything they put their mind.

Brittinie Colbert

Grad year: 2025

Major: Sports Medicine and Athletic Training

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Why Concordia?

Concordia at first wasn’t at the top of my list, but I’ve grown to love it. My high school and middle school visited here all the time. When it came time to choose my senior year, I had to think realistically. I got my UPS scholarship for CUW, so that made the decision easier.

I still get to be “at home” but I’m far enough away so I still get the college experience. I didn’t want to come at first because I thought it was too close to home, and I wanted to be different. This is the school where all my high school classmates went, and now I see why everyone went here.

Walter Goodwyn has been a big help and a resource to me. My favorite professor is Sarah Lovern. She’s very good at her job. You can tell that she not only cares about if we pass her class, but she cares about our wellbeing too.

What motivates you to be the first in your family to earn a college degree?

My mom is a big motivation. She was always my support in high school. She didn’t want me to struggle like she did because she’s a single mom. She was my comfort and motivation to go for it and get a college degree. A lot of people don’t go to college and are still successful, but I felt like this was the right route for me.

I’ve always had a love for medicine and how God made the human body. It’s amazing what the human body can do. How the body works through sports. Being able to take care of patients and get them back into a game and stuff. My desire to work in a field that I loved required that I get a college degree so here I am.

— Madelyne Arrigoni is a senior studying English, Mass Communications, and Photography. She plans to graduate in 2022.

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