Kansas State University


K-State First

Going Beyond My First-Year Experience with K-State First

Reagan Swank

As a first-generation student I remember coming into college having no clue how my college experience was going to take off. One of the best decisions that I made as a first-year student was enrolling in the Strengths CAT Community. This class impacted my first-year college experience tremendously. I had class with an experienced teacher that challenged my way of leadership and critical thinking skills. My CAT Community helped me with my transition into college. On top of all of this my class organized a Christmas holiday gathering for the Ogden community near Manhattan. This is an impoverished community that my CAT Community was able to assist first hand and make a difference in. We impacted many of the families in the community.

My journey as a student worker with K-State First began in the summer heading into my sophomore year. Originally, I was supposed to be the Learning Assistant for Leading the Way, the K-State First summer CAT Community. Unfortunately, not enough students signed up for it that year, and it had to be canceled. Fortunately, K-State First did not leave me high and dry, and they offered me a part-time summer student worker job. This worked out for the better in the end because they invited me to come back and work for them in the fall. My summer work entailed a research project partnered through the Staley School of Leadership Studies.

One of my favorite things about working for K-State First is they allow me to choose projects that interest me and help benefit me in a way that could impact my future. For example, I journaled for two weeks observing Orientation and Enrollment for first-year students and what I found to be the most interesting was relationships between parents and the student transition into college and if this affects their college performance. This not only benefited me, but I was also able to come up with ways for K-State First to improve their programs for students who may struggle in relationship with their parents.

My work during the school year transitioned from mainly doing research, to being more of an assistant to everyone in the office. This worked out great for me because I was able to have a job as a Resident Assistant and K-State First is always working around my crazy college schedule. I have never experienced an environment when my boss is as understanding as those in K-State First are. This makes work and college life more flexible and accommodating. I come into work every day knowing that my work is important and helps the team out in a meaningful way. Whether it is simply scanning documents, helping a committee to award a student for their first-year efforts, or sitting in on a team meeting, I always feel welcome and know that I am making a difference. The team always encourages me to use my student voice to help them improve their programs. They understand the importance of having a student’s voice to help improve their programs. K-State First keeps inviting me back to do more with them too. In the fall of 2018, I will be the first Residential Learning Assistant (RLA) for the Art of Professional Selling CAT Community. I am more excited every day to continue my experience with K-State First.

My K-State First Team Nominated me for an Award 

Not only do I enjoy coming into work, everyone on the K-State First Team helps me feel appreciated and always reassures me how important my role within K-State First is. The team is accommodating to my needs as a student employee, willing to assign projects that I am interested in, and I overall just love coming into work with my team.

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