TAYLOR KERN, Opinion Editor—The First Generation Network is a fairly new group on Denison’s campus intended to be a support system for First Generation Denison students. The self care night the group hosted on Wednesday aimed to do just that-with mental and physical care. 

The event included two types of cookies, fresh out of the oven. Local Newkirk Salon and Spa promised two volunteers: a masseuse and a facialist. Though the facialist called out sick with the flu, the masseuse spent nearly two hours working. 

The Network also provided markers and many coloring pages for students.   As calming music played through a member’s speaker, attendees spent hours coloring in bears, wolves, flowers and more, a blissfully mindless activity. Some came for the professional spa treatments, but ended up staying to color, eat cookies and spend a few hours just vibing. 

The president of the First Generation Network, Stefanie Rodrigues ‘22, spoke to The Denisonian about the group’s mission. She emphasized that its purpose is to acknowledge and support students through the unique struggles they face when their parents do not attend college before them. 

However, she sees how their parents’ inexperience can be a positive force: “I think the beauty of being a first gen student is that we’re making it up as we go along. The journey we’re on, we come to realize, is where we’re supposed to be. It’s nobody else’s journey. And we don’t realize until we reach our goals.” She wants the network to be there for students who share this necessary independence or know others who do, both because their parents cannot guide first gen students every step of the way and because they need to do what is best for them.

She continued, saying “This network is going to be about giving back.” Rodrigues knows that their mission is not only to find help for oneself, but to reach out to others who need help. On Wednesday, that meant hosting a self-care night for any and all who needed it. 

Rodrigues concluded by highlighting that their work is far from over. Their future goals entail being more inclusive. “We need to do a better job of reaching out to people who are first gen who are not POC,” she said. 

Along with outreach and expanding the network, Rodrigues seemed to speak for herself and many of us: “My parents always told me I need to be a doctor, lawyer, this and that. And I love that you have those dreams for me, but I’m taking control and doing what makes me happy. And in the end I’ll be doing something I’m proud of.”