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White House weighs in on documentary about Kansas State University's first-generation college students

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014


— The premiere of a Kansas State University College of Education documentary about first-generation college students from across Kansas that has caught the attention of the White House will be at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4, in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union.

First lady Michelle Obama commented on the trailer for "A Walk in My Shoes: First Generation College Students" in her initial post as a guest curator for Upworthy.com. The documentary addresses the struggles and triumphs many first-generation college students face — an issue Obama is confronting through her Reach Higher initiative that encourages students to pursue higher education. Her blog post discusses some of her initial challenges as a first-generation college student.

For those unable to attend the campus premiere, the documentary also will be streamed live at http://coe.k-state.edu/a-walk-in-my-shoes/.

The premiere is in conjunction with the university's inaugural First-Generation College Student Awareness Week.

Featured in the documentary are three successful Kansas educators and five Kansas State University preservice teachers:

Angelica Villanueva, a high school science teacher in Dodge City; Lisa Mead, senior in secondary education-social studies, Effingham, a graduate of AtchisonCounty Community High School; Martin Segovia, athletic director and vice principal at Garden City High School.

From Greater Kansas City: Chuck Allen, educator and founder/executive director of the Urban Scholastic Center in Kansas City; Kristofer Bailey, junior in secondary education-social studies, Kansas City, and a graduate of Sumner Academy of Arts and Science; Helene Nguyen, junior in secondary education-English, Kansas City, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants and a graduate of Olathe North High School; and Jessica Leichter, senior in elementary education, Shawnee, a graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest High School.

Ciera Cathey, junior in secondary education-math, Manhattan, a graduate of Topeka High School.

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, commissioned the video project to shed light on the fact that more than one-third of the college's undergraduate students are first-generation college students. About 40 percent of Kansas State University's undergraduates — twice the national average — are first-generation college students, while 70 percent of undergraduates are first-generation students at Kansas State University Salina.

"As a college housed in the nation's first land-grant institution who's mission it is to train future educators, it's important for us understand the backgrounds, cultures and experiences students bring to our classrooms," Mercer said. "We hope this documentary makes viewers aware of how challenging it can be for some students to pursue a college education and to rethink who today's college students really are."

For more information about the documentary, contact Patrice Scott, College of Education communications coordinator, at patrices@k-state.edu or 785-532-2521.


Debbie Mercer


College of Education

News tip

Dodge City, Effingham, Garden City, Kansas City, Manhattan, Olathe, Shawnee and Topeka

Written by

Patrice Scott

At a glance

The Kansas State University College of Education documentary"A Walk in My Shoes: First Generation College Students" will make its campus premiere at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4, in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union. The documentary has drawn the attention of first lady Michelle Obama.