IMAGINE Conference invites first-generation college students to think big

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., February 19, 2018 — Applying for and going to college can be an intimidating and bewildering experience for first-time college students. The confusion is only heightened for those who are often the first in their family to go to college.

Drury University’s first-ever IMAGINE Conference aims to clear up confusion and dispel fears that first-generation students may have about college. The conference, to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, March 8, on Drury’s main campus in Springfield, is free to current and prospective first-generation college students. Conference space is limited, and those interested in attending must register here. Participants will be selected in order of registration. 

VIDEO: First-generation student Leo Regalado-Heredia admits he was feeling lost until he found the support of his advisors and classmates at Drury’s Monett campus.

“This conference will be unique in that it will present to both current and potential first-generation university students an array of hints, tips, training and information to help them navigate education, financial aid, career exploration and more at the university level,” says Dr. Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols, professor of Spanish and IMAGINE Conference coordinator.

The conference will include sessions on:

  • How to apply to college
  • How to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Opportunities for financial aid and scholarships
  • Scheduling classes and work/life balance
  • Day, evening and online degree program options
  • Motivation and resilience
  • Leadership and entrepreneurship
  • Professional and career advice
  • Exploring majors and possibilities

The conference begins at the Trustee Science Center, located just inside the main entrance to campus on Chestnut Expressway. Sessions will also be held in the Shewmaker Communication Center, Breech School of Business, and Burnham Hall. The event concludes with a complimentary pasta lunch and social with music and a photo booth. There will be free prize giveaways throughout the day.

Nichols, who also serves as project director of Drury’s Somos program, which provides financial aid and support to the family members of migrant or seasonal agricultural workers, sees a clear need for a conference for first-generation college students in southwest Missouri. 

“First-generation college students are hardworking, driven and motivated, but often share a unique set of obstacles and challenges when it comes to applying for and succeeding at the university level,” says Nichols. “Rules, customs and expectations that seem normal to families that have a history of university attendance can be bewildering and mysterious for the first family member to ever go to college. Many first-generation students not only need to know how to apply to college, but also how to ‘do’ college successfully.”


Media Contact - Greg Katski, Director of Marketing, College of Continuing Professional Studies: (417) 873-7317 or

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