U of T’s First in the Family

Andrea and Aaron have a lot in common – they love astrology – but here at U of T, they’ve bonded over one thing in particular: they are both the first in their families to attend post-secondary education in Canada. The First in the Family (FITF) program is a mentorship initiative that connects students like Aaron with mentors, often former FITF mentees, who can help them navigate the transition to university life. Aaron discovered FITF last September, when he was entering his first year at U of T. After registering for the program, mentees can look through a list of participants and choose their mentor. Aaron was drawn to Andrea because of their cultural backgrounds. “I related to her because we had similar starts”, he recalls. photo 1 (2) Andrea, like Aaron, started at U of T with her sights set on the Cognitive Science program and her academic experience has been incredibly useful to him. Over the first semester, she has helped him tackle issues that FITF students can face, especially preparation and procrastination. Learning events at FITF assist students with the basics of academic research and writing and connect students with a Learning Strategist, but Aaron says Andrea's most useful piece of advice is simple: “Read your syllabi!” Their relationship, and the FITF program overall, is about more than academics. “I put a lot of pressure on myself in first year,” explains Andrea. It’s a challenge that Aaron has also faced: “We’re kinda crazy and definitely fun… but we both worry a lot”. The mentorship program helps students find support for the transitions they are experiencing both in class and on campus. photo 2 (2) “First in the Family is about creating well-rounded students,” says Andrea. FITF’s programming ranges from leadership seminars to academic support events and the spectrum of events is complimented by a tight-knit community within the larger U of T campus. “I would have been a mess my first year without her,” says Aaron, “I wouldn’t choose another mentor even if I could!” If you are interested in joining First in the Family, you can learn more about the program and register to be a mentee. If you are an upper-year student and interested in becoming a mentor, keep an eye out for the application period opening dates on the FITF website. FITF staff is available to answer any questions about the program or upcoming events, by email at firstgen@utoronto.ca or over the phone at 416-978-0480. All currently (and newly) registered mentors and mentees are invited to attend the upcoming Trailblazers Conference on February 28 which will bring together all of U of T’s first-generation communities together for a tri-campus event. The conference is a great opportunity to explore your own identity and to hear the stories of other first-generation speakers!

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