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Royals First

Queens University of Charlotte
Royals Rise
2023 First generation graduates

What is Royals First?

Queens University of Charlotte defines a first-generation college student as an individual that neither parent nor legal guardian graduated from a 4-year institution.

Inclusivity – We recognize that our students have intersecting identities, which are represented by the + in our name. A student can be first-gen + a veteran, first-gen + a student of color, etc. The + also represents faculty, staff, and other students who support and champion first-gen students.

At Queens we do not say the plus in Royals First. We proudly celebrate our students who are the ‘First’ in their families to attend Queens as ‘Royals’.

110 infographic

first-gen students graduating in May 2024.

*graduate and undergraduate

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first-gen undergraduate students attending Queens.

Queens skyline
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What is one piece of advice you would give a first gen student?

Darryl L. White, Sr.

Assistant Dean, Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement

Being a first-gen college student was a bit of a challenge for me as I had no family members that I could reach out to for advice. Also being that I was a non-traditional student, it was an adjustment to being in the classroom with younger students. My college journey began at the community college level where there was not a lot of support. When I came to Queens, I quickly felt a sense of community with the small class sizes and being able to know my professors. I would encourage all students to utilize all the resources that you have at your disposal, especially your professors.

Darryl White Sr

Tommy DeRossett, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Psychology

Speak up! If you’re confused, ask for help! If you didn’t understand a topic, or want to learn more about it, ask the professor! Yes, it may be scary. Yes, it may feel overwhelming. Yes, other students may roll their eyes or get annoyed. That is all fine. You are here because you belong here, and this time is precious. Use every opportunity you can to ask questions, learn more, and find the area of learning that truly brings joy into your world.

Tommy DeRossett

Stephanie Keene

Director, Enrollment & Student Services
McColl School of Business

If I could give a first-gen student one piece of advice it would be to advocate for yourself. I know it’s scary and it can often seem like everyone knows more than you, but don’t be afraid to ask why. Don’t be afraid to push back if the answer is dismissive or doesn’t make sense. You have campus supporters (whom I recommend you use), but you should always be your biggest advocate. This is your degree and your collegiate experience. I hope that every first-generation college student feels empowered enough to have their voice be heard because you matter, your experiences are valid, and you deserve to be here.

Stephanie Keene

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Interested in learning more about our Royal first gen students?

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What does being first gen mean to you?

Kristina Siarzynski-Ferrer, Ed.D.

Associate Dean, Center for Student Success

Being first-generation means overcoming obstacles, removing barriers, and societal change based on my experience as a first-generation college student and first-generation born United States citizen. My family’s background, their lack in speaking English, and last name often was a focal point of ridicule. However, as a youth growing up in the inner-city, my beliefs began to cultivate as I witnessed greater displays of inequity. While the adversity I encountered was minimal compared to others, I learned to never discount someone due to their background, characteristics, or cultural differences. As a higher education administrator, my focus is on removing barriers so students can overcome their own obstacles so when they graduate their community feels a positive impact.

Kristina Siarzynski-Ferrer