MOBILE, Ala. – When Barbara Brousseau started RamLegacy at the University of Mobile five years ago, the associate professor of French had students like Morgan Phillips in mind.
A first-generation-to-college student, Phillips struggled at times to balance the demands of academia and life responsibilities. Through RamLegacy, she found a community of first-gen students, faculty and staff at the Christian university that encouraged and supported her.
On May 7, Phillips will become the first generation in her family to graduate from college when she walks across the stage to receive her diploma and the congratulations of UM President Lonnie Burnett – who also was the first generation in his family to earn a college degree. She will have earned two degrees – a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Science in history, with a minor in theology.
Among those celebrating her accomplishments – and those of other first-generation UM students – will be the university’s RamLegacy community.
“RamLegacy was founded to help first-generation-to-college students not just survive the college journey, but to thrive, walk across that stage for their diplomas, and leave the University of Mobile with added tools, resources and attitudes to help them throughout their adult life,” Brousseau said. “We want to do everything we can to make our first-gen students feel seen, heard and guided along their college journeys.”
The University of Mobile’s Christ-centered culture already emphasizes personal attention and mentoring. With a 13-to-1 student/faculty ratio, the university offers small classes where students are known by their professors. A robust Student Success Center program provides free tutoring, skills development and peer leader mentoring.
RamLegacy offers an additional layer of support for first-gen students. The program introduces resources to help first-generation students establish friendships, strengthen interpersonal skills, improve study skills, access networking opportunities, and develop mentorships with first-generation alumni, faculty and staff.
RamLegacy events feature speakers from the university and the local community who share life lessons aimed at guiding and in spiring UM’s first-gen students.
“We want to make sure first-gens here don’t just ‘attend’ UM, but also complete their academic programs and graduate with a UM degree – becoming part of the alumni legacy of UM, our RamLegacy,” Brousseau said.
A pinning ceremony held in April honored first-gen graduates in the Class of 2022. In addition to Phillips of Fort Deposit, Alabama, the ceremony honored Hailey Morgan of Pearland, Texas, and Zsakira Robinson of Mobile, Alabama. Morgan graduates summa cum laude with two degrees – a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Bachelor of Arts in English. An Honors with thesis graduate, she received the area award in communication. Robinson graduates with a Bachelor of Science in psychology.
Danny Chancey, director of UM’s Chora Godwin Writing Center and a co-sponsor of RamLegacy, said students whose parents went to college have the advantage of an experienced voice to give them support. RamLegacy offers an opportunity for students who have no experienced voice in their lives to hear from people who have traveled a similar path.
“Through RamLegacy, students find possible mentors through professors and speakers, as well as potential friends from among other students with whom they share a common ground,” said Chancey, who is also a first-gen graduate of UM.
Phillips said professors throughout her entire UM experience, along with the support of RamLegacy, made a difference. “They helped me academically through times of my life where everything was changing and there was no solid ground,” Phillips said.
“They made it where I felt like if I needed help, I could ask,” she added. “They reminded me what it felt like to be alive in the pursuit of knowledge, which was a light that helped me to make it through truly dark periods. Their scholastic instruction permeated every area of my life. They have no idea how truly impactful they are.”
Top photo from left: RamLegacy students, faculty and staff.
Insert Photo: Morgan Phillips, Hailey Morgan and Zsakira Robinson.
About the University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university offering on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.
For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit umobile.edu, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.