Q and A with Charmaine Troy, Program Director for First-Gen Student Support

Charmaine Troy is guiding the efforts to promote first-generation Hokie success. The inaugural program director for first-generation student support shares advice for students and families, priorities for the university-wide program, and what she likes best about being a Hokie.

Q: You joined Virginia Tech in August. How have you spent the first few months?

A: Getting to know our incredible first-generation students and the campus in Blacksburg! I have been meeting with students, faculty, and staff across campus to see how we can collaborate—and using that information to build the program, a timeline, and materials for communication, including a web presence

I am also getting to know this beautiful part of Virginia. I have taken walks on the Huckleberry Trail with my mom and with my daughter and my dog. It’s very relaxing and scenic.

Q: What are some priorities for the university-wide program to help first-generation Hokies?

A: We have already launched a support group in partnership with Cook Counseling Center. The group met for the first time last month. We have also started to identify first-generation faculty and staff to establish an allies mentoring program.

Other short-term priorities include launching a peer-mentoring program in the fall of 2020, partnering with the Cultural and Community Centers to establish a first-generation recognition ceremony for those graduating, and launching a First-Gen Institute in collaboration with the College Access Collaborative

One of my long-term goals is to launch a living-learning community designed to support the transition from high school to college for first-generation students.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a Hokie so far?

A:I am really enjoying the Hokie hospitality! Everyone has been so welcoming. I would like to say thank you to everyone who has welcomed my family to Virginia Tech and Blacksburg.

Q: What advice do you have for families of first-generation Hokies? 

A: Eliminate or minimize any unnecessary distractions that your student may face. For example, make sure transportation, books, and meal plan or money for food are taken care of to help your student stay focused on coursework. Students also appreciate care packages.

Finally, remind your students that they belong at Virginia Tech and encourage them to be active in campus life! It takes time to adjust to campus and the challenges of each new semester. And don’t forget to let your student know that you are proud of their accomplishments and that you are there to support them. 

Q: You were a first-generation student in college. What are some tips you share with first-gens?

A: Utilize resources on campus and don’t be afraid or too prideful to ask for assistance. Attend our events to find a supportive community and build relationships. Connect with other first-generation students and meet first-generation faculty and staff.

Dr. Charmaine Troy Program Director for First-Generation Student Support
Dr. Charmaine Troy, Director for First-Generation Student Support

About Dr. Charmaine Troy

As the Program Director for First-Generation Student Support at Virginia Tech, Dr. Troy oversees the development and implementation of a first-generation peer-mentoring program and living-learning community. In addition, she works with departments across campus on creating a collaborative campus-wide culture that streamlines and strengthens services for first-generation students. Her goal is to work with student affairs colleagues and academic partners to improve transition and retention for first-generation students. She previously created and implemented Grizzly First Scholars, a learning community for first-generation students at Georgia Gwinnett College who require learning support courses. She also created and implemented Bears Engaging and Mentoring Program (BEAM), a peer-mentoring program established to help guide first-generation students in the Grizzly First Scholars Program. Dr. Troy also previously served as the program director for the Elite Scholars Program, an African American Male Initiative; instructor for GGC 1000, the first-year seminar; and student success advisor at Georgia Gwinnett College. Her research agenda focuses on the access, equity, and success of underrepresented students within higher education, particularly minority first-generation college students. She is co-editor of the book Graduate Education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): A Student Perspective and co-author of the book chapter “Mentoring Experiences of Graduate Students in HBCU Professional Programs.” Dr. Troy earned a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master in public administration from North Carolina Central University, and a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in higher education from Morgan State University.