First-Gen Owls

First-Gen Owls: Lifting Off into Higher Education
A Learning Community for First-Generation College Students

Are you the first in your immediate family to pursue a four-year college degree from a university in the U.S.? “First-Gen Owls: Lifting Off into Higher Education” is a learning community designed with you in mind!

First-gen college students possess valuable strengths and skill-sets that can aid their success in college and beyond. In this learning community, students will have the opportunity to develop a strong foundation for achieving their higher education goals, and build a lasting network of fellow first-gen peers, professors, and mentors who can help them make the most of their time at KSU. Instructors will help students navigate the process of applying for grants and scholarships, and connect students with the undergraduate research, publication, and study abroad opportunities that can make them more competitive candidates for internships, jobs, and/or grad school programs.

In their courses, students will learn about common aspects of the first-gen experience through the study of multimedia narratives by and about other first-gen students. Assignments will include a community-based learning project, where students will pass on their knowledge about college life to prospective university students, and an opportunity for the class to share their own first-gen college stories by publishing in a university-sponsored journal.

If you’re looking for an edge as you take flight on your college journey, the “First-Gen Owls” learning community is here to welcome you to KSU!

Meet Your Professors

Danelle Dyckhoff StelzriedeProf. Danelle Dyckhoff Stelzriede was the first in her family to attend a four-year university. She completed her B.A. in English at Sacramento State and then moved to Los Angeles to complete her M.A. and Ph.D. programs, also in English. Over the last ten years, she has developed several exciting opportunities for first-generation college students, including a first-gen journal of creative writing and a 10-day study abroad program to the Dominican Republic. She is passionate about helping students reach their educational goals. Feel free to send her an email at

Vicki Armour-Hileman is not technically the first person in her family to go to college, but she is the only one among the siblings she grew up with to make it all the way through high school, let alone go to college. She currently has a PhD in English and an MFA in Creative Writing, both from University of Iowa. Her favorite things to do include writing (she has a memoir about working with refugees from Myanmar) and composing music. She also loves teaching, especially in learning communities, and she is passionate about helping students find their own path to achievement and success.