Dr. Joan Neff


                                                      Dr. Joan Neff, WVU Tech Provost

What advice would you give to first generation students at WVU Tech?
Believe in yourself.  We would not have admitted you to WVU Tech if we did not think you could succeed here.  We all have self-doubts about our abilities in various areas.  The best way to deal with them is to seek help and support from others.  You have many people on this campus who want to support and assist you, including the faculty, Student Success advisors, the Registrar’s Office, Student Life staff, and me.  All you have to do is reach out and ask.

What do you wish you had known before coming to college?
I am tempted to say “everything” because I did not know anyone who had gone to college.  Even my older friends who had graduated from high school did not attend college.  I was the oldest of five children, so I did not have any siblings who could advise me.  I had to learn on my own where to turn for answers to my questions and where to find support.  I did find a counselor during my first semester who helped me process some of my doubts and misgivings, and he was a tremendous resource.

As a first-generation college student, what was one obstacle that you had to overcome?
There were a number of obstacles, but the most challenging one was self-doubt.  I had done very well in high school, but I thought college was going to be much more challenging, and I was not certain I was well enough prepared to handle the work.  It turned out I was, but it took the entire first semester for me to recognize that I could do it.

What things can people do to be champions for first-generation students?
Providing words and actions that convey support and confidence in the student’s ability to be successful at Tech is very important. Most of us have experienced self-doubt at one time or another, especially when we are attempting something for the first time that no one else in our circle of friends and family has ever done. It’s important to listen to the student’s concerns, but not dismiss them. Helping first-generation students believe in themselves and know they are in the right place will allow them to take control of their path forward, and even though there will be some challenging times, they will learn how to overcome them and be successful.