Brian's Corner

Summer is coming to a close and pedestrian traffic on campus is increasing each day.  The students will begin the semester next week and we will welcome more than 17,000 of them to the Viking Family. Among this group will be an eager first-year class filled with hopes, dreams, aspirations and more than nervous energy than you can imagine.

Do you remember your first days as a college student? I’m certain you can then relate. As the first in my family to go away to college, I felt a great deal of fear and uncertainty. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was a good student in high school, but would those skills work in college? What about new friendships? Would I make friends, or would college be a lonely place? Where will I eat? Where will I park? What if I hate my roommate? Why are my classes in so many different buildings? Where are all of these buildings located? What does a dean do? A Registrar? An Ombudsman? There seems to be a whole new vocabulary associated with college.

Being a first-generation college student adds to this anxiety as you often don’t have the guidance of family members to assist you in this transition. About 40 percent of CSU students attend as the first in their families to go to college. We’re proud they chose CSU.

In an effort to make this transition more successful, we’re launching a pilot mentoring program for first generation students with young alumni (35 and younger) who were also first generation students when they attended CSU. The program, First Vike, will bring together 100 alumni and students in a handful of planned activities during the year, while relying on the students/alumni to connect informally at other times most convenient and beneficial.

The challenges of being a first generation college student are very real. We believe others who experienced the same challenges, and successfully graduated, are great examples for our newest students.  If you are a young first generation alum, and wish to help out by participating in this mentoring initiative, please sign up here and we’ll take it from there.

Along with First Vike, we are planning a number of other programs during the year under the umbrella “Vike to Vike” to again match students with alumni.  You may not be able to commit to a mentoring program, for example, but are willing to host a student at your worksite for half a day so they can learn more about your profession.  Programs like this help our students better plan for their careers, while they also allow alumni to give back in shorter meaningful ways.  Contact Kathleen Piper at for more information about these experiences.

Happy Back to School time!

Brian Breittholz,
Executive Director, CSU Alumni Association
Assistant Vice President, Alumni Affairs