On the 26th of October, the YES Forum promoted the POWERst project during its annual Policy Event with social & youth workers, young people as well as policy-makers in Brussels. Practitioners from the youth & social field could indeed learn about and exchange on POWERst’s latest developments.
Milena Münchbach and Philipp Scheurich, both part of the project as student assistants at the University of Stuttgart, led the presentations. They explained how POWERst collates strategies to facilitate the access to higher education for future first-generation students and to improve the general study conditions for current ones.
The POWERst way hereby involves not only substantial support for first generation students in the form of empowerment, assistance in completing degree programs and continuing academic careers as well as provision of international exchange and networking possibilities, but also support for university employees and teaching staff, which are to be sensitized to the needs of first-generation students and provided with the necessary tools to provide support.
During the discussion sessions many former and current first-generation students, involved in other projects represented at the policy event, expressed their delight about the mission of project POWERst and stressed the importance of raising awareness for the issues of first-generation students and of providing support.
Some of the most discussed topics revolved around issues experienced by first-generation students, such as difficulties to access support materials, networking or the impostor syndrome. Some participants in the event were themselves first-generation students which enriched even more the discussions about the project and its mission.
When looking ahead and envisioning the post- POWERst future many participants voiced their interest in follow-up projects, which not only put focus on university students, but also on high school seniors and the provision of support so that these students feel confident in enrolling at academic institutions.