Building A First-Gen Community Online

Written by Jessica Martinez on July 26, 2021

Jessica is a 4th year MFOS scholar double majoring in Public Relations and Political Science.  She also serves as a student assistant within the MFOS Office


The Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program changed my life. This is a sentiment shared by many MFOS scholars. MFOS does so much more than just finance your education. MFOS is a support system. MFOS is approachable staff, workshops that give you the tools to succeed and mentors that help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. I had no idea of the power of MFOS when I first got to UF, but after my first year I knew I had to give back to this amazing program. I started by becoming a peer mentor and when the student assistant position opened last Fall, I immediately applied.



During my time at UF, I have done what I can to advocate for and help the first-gen community. I have tried to play a role in building and growing the first-gen community on campus through different leadership positions and involvement. Becoming MFOS’ student assistant meant not only that I would give back to the program, but that I would be able to use my interests and skills to do what I am passionate about. As a public relations major, I have studied the power of social media. However, you don’t need to major in it to know that social media connects people. As many of us know, first-generation students come from a variety of backgrounds and it’s not obvious who is first-gen and who is not. I knew that as MFOS’ student assistant, I would be able to foster the first-gen community online. This was especially crucial during the pandemic. Transitioning to college when everything is online is isolating for a normal student, but for a first-gen student it could make it all even more daunting and overwhelming. I am so fortunate to have been able to play a role in helping students find their first-gen community and provide them with resources to ensure their success.

At times it seems like it’s just a graphic I share or a sticker I put on a story, but I know that it makes a difference among our scholars. It is my hope that I have made it clear through our social media that MFOS is here for first-gen students. That has always been my experience with MFOS, and I try my best to convey this on our socials. I share relevant information and get student feedback. I spotlight scholars and staff. Not only has being the student assistant been fulfilling on a personal and professional level, but I have also had the pleasure to meet so many scholars. I feel so fortunate to have heard their stories and have learned so much through my interactions with current scholars and alumni. I make it a point to amplify those stories on our socials so others can connect with these individuals. When it comes down to it, connection is what MFOS is all about and what it has done for me. It connects scholars and alumni with each other and with different opportunities. I never thought I could love MFOS anymore than I did after learning that it would give me the opportunity to go to college without debt. However, after spending almost a year working closely with staff, meeting other scholars, and helping them serve the first-gen community through social media, I am even more grateful and enamored with this organization and those who ensure its existence and success.