WSU alumnus to speak about challenges first-generation students face

Event takes place 4:30 p.m. Nov. 9 on Zoom; part of WSU’s first-generation celebration



WSU alumnus and first-generation student Jordan Frost will be speaking at a university event about first-generation students.

LEIANNA KUNZ, Evergreen reporter

Jordan Frost, WSU alumnus and first-generation student, considered dropping out of his master’s program because of the challenges he was facing.

“I remembered that moment, and if I could go back, I would say, ‘Struggle is part of the process, and you’re not always going to enjoy it,’” he said. “The power of your personal story and the things that you have lived through … can propel you into greater things in life.”

Frost graduated from WSU with a bachelor’s degree in 2018 and a master’s in 2019, according to his LinkedIn.

Frost will be speaking at the event, “I am First-Gen: Overcoming Personal and Institutional Barriers for Academic Achievement,” at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 9 on Zoom.

Ali Bretthauer, project director for WSU’s Teacher Prep Student Support Services, said having Frost speak allows first-generation students to see a role model who understands the difficulties they face and how it is possible to still succeed. 

“I’ve had some phenomenal experiences with [Frost],” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch him grow as a student and as a professional, and it’s just always phenomenal to see students become what they’ve always wanted to be.”

Frost, who is now the activities director at Issaquah High School, said he wants to be an example for other first-generation students.

Challenges in life are not always a bad thing, he said. It is not a reflection of who first-generation students are or what they have done. 

“It’s just really a part of everyone’s journey,” Frost said. “I never thought that I’d be living the life I am now, coming from a life I did.” 

Bretthauer said she hopes to increase student engagement with this event and encourage first-generation students to use the support resources available to them. 

“Our first-gen students, these students who are blazing the way for future generations, they’re a little lost when they first come to WSU,” Bretthauer said. 

WSU has traditionally served students whose parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles are Cougar legacies. This means WSU is not easy for first-generation students to navigate, she said. 

The barriers first-generation students encounter have nothing to do with who they are, but what resources and opportunities they are provided, she said. 

First-generation students are experiencing technological, financial and relocation difficulties because of the switch to online learning, she said. 

Programs such as First Scholars, Teacher Prep, TRIO Student Support Services, STEM SSS and Veteran SSS are resources available to first-gen students, she said. 

“With the use of resources, [first-generation students] created partnerships and networks of students and faculty and staff across the university,” she said. “They exemplify not only what it means to be a Coug, but what it means to be a first-gen Coug.”