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Written By: Ralston Hartness - Community Outreach and Scholarship Director

We Want You to Know that You Belong

In his 2015 article, James T. Minor, an educator and administrator at California State University, gave five pieces of advice and encouragement to first-generation college students and families. Minor properly acknowledges how important it is to continue to break down barriers that prevent aspiring first-generation college students from fulfilling their ambitions of receiving a postsecondary degree. And, just like we believe at Clayborne, Minor emphasizes the importance of family involvement and support in this process.

What struck me, though, was Minor’s very first tip for students and families – no, it wasn’t anything about scheduling classes, navigating on-campus housing, or traveling to or from campus.

It was about belonging.

“Many first-generation students will falsely question whether they belong on a college campus… remind your student that they are good enough… that they deserve to be in college as much as anyone else…”

Our sense of belonging is powerful to our engagement in a community and to our performing at our best. It is hard to put forward our most authentic effort in classes, work, or relationships when we feel like imposters or misfits.

We believe this wholeheartedly at Clayborne, and this is why we work so deeply to cultivate a confident and belonging identity in our Better Future Fellows and for all of our students. We believe that every student belongs in our office, and we want to equip all of our students with the skills and passion and clarity to feel the same way. It is not simply an important thing that we do, but it is a duty that we take very seriously. Another educator, Tanya La Mar, writes from personal and educational experience  that “it can be difficult at times to believe that one belongs in academia… I hope that we can work together to support our students as they process the development of their identities… I believe it is our duty to do.”

So, as you prepare for college entrance exams or work to improve your geometry grade, as you consider applying for a scholarship at Clayborne or finish up your interviews on college campuses – we want you to know that you belong.

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