A student forms a heart with her hands in front of her face.

Celebrating first-generation students

Western has a long tradition of welcoming and embracing students who are first in their family to earn a college degree. From programming to a built-in support system, first-gen Broncos are an important part of the WMU community.

Success stories

  • A portrait of Chris Barnes, crossing his arms over his chest.

    I hardly thought I’d even go to college, let alone pursue an advanced degree. Although I found the work, research and training challenging, it was worth every moment of the tears and sleepless nights.

    Dr. Chris Barnes, B.S.'04

    Learn how he went from cook to clinical psychologist

  • A portrait of Sherry Thomas-Cloud

    Dr. Lewis Walker became a mentor and friend to me. My parents did not finish high school because of many barriers, so there were no professional role models that I was exposed to that were people of color in my small community. As a young Black student, this was huge for me to experience.

    Sherry Thomas-Cloud, B.S.'77, M.S.W.'90

    See how she's prioritized giving back to the community

  • Jerjuan Howard stands with his arms outstretched in front of a sign that reads Detroit Mercy Law.

    (Being president of the Black Student Union) is the best teaching experience I’ve had thus far. I’ve tried to replicate what I did at the BSU with my nonprofit by creating a sense of solidarity, recognizing the value of teamwork, and being a mentor and an advocate for others.

    Jerjuan Howard, B.A.'20

    Read how he's inspiring the next generation leaders

  • Kevin Curiel-Vazquez poses for a portrait inside Sangren Hall.

    WMU took a chance with me and believed in my potential, and that’s sometimes all it takes—just one person believing in you—and I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for WMU. For that, I will be forever grateful and forever a Bronco!

    Kevin Curiel-Vazquez, B.A.'19, M.A.'22

    Learn how a degree offered new hope for the future

  • Miranda Goodison in the cockpit of a plane.

    When taking my first steps on to the runway, my life plans, aspirations and goals were solidified. The WMU tour guide saw the look on my face and knew I was hooked.

    Miranda Goodison

    Read how she went from field trips to the flight deck

  • Two men stand in a field with a parachute.

    No one in my immediate family or close friends is a pilot, but I didn't want to have that 'what-if' moment and not pursue a career in aviation.

    Troy Kinnunen

    Explore his journey from Marine to Bronco

  • Alysse Matteson sits in a plane's cockpit.

    Being a first-generation college student ... has made me grow as a person, expanded my opportunities greatly, while also realizing how lucky I am to be able to chase my dream of flying every day.

    Alysse Matteson

    See how her career is taking flight

  • Samantha Morehead wears a Western Michigan sweatshirt in Times Square.

    I've always had an interest in (fashion), so seeing (New York Fashion Week) and then full circle being there in the place I've always wanted to be was just surreal. ... It was an amazing experience to be able to know that ... I'm making my own path that wasn't there originally for my family.

    Samantha Morehead, B.B.A.'22

    Read how this Bronco found her way to the Big Apple

Supportive programming