Newswise — MACOMB, IL — This coming academic year, Western Illinois University Educational Studies Assistant Professor Sarah Schoper will use a grant award to help with her research about first-generation college students and their involvement in student organizations. During the Spring 2015 semester, Schoper was awarded a $500 research grant from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA)-College Student Educators International's Commission for Student Involvement.

According to Schoper—a faculty member in Western's College Student Personnel (CSP) graduate program (in the WIU Department of Educational Studies)—a team of CSP students interested in learning about first-generation students and qualitative research will be aiding her in the research study. She said the grant funds will be used to pay for interview transcriptions, to advertise the research study, as well as for student organization t-shirts and a symposium speaker or film.

"This was an international application process, and the research question included in the application was: 'How do students involved in a student organization designed to aid in the transition of first-generation students describe the role of the student organization in their individual transition processes?' For the study, we will also be working with a WIU student organization, the 'Western First Generation Society,' which was established over the course of the past year by a group of undergraduate first-generation students," she explained. "What I learn about the needs of first-generation students will be brought into my courses through classroom discussions, so the CSP students can learn about how to best help first-generation students succeed."

In addition, Schoper noted she has plans to present the research study's results at the ACPA—College Student Educators International Conference in Montreal, Canada, in the Spring 2016 semester.

"The grant award also requires submission of a manuscript to the Commission for publication, and that will occur in Summer 2016," she added.

In 2014, Schoper was honored with the Annuit Coeptis Award for Emerging Professionals by the ACPA—College Student Educators International.

For more information, contact Schoper at (309) 298-1597 or via email at

Learn more about Western's College Student Personnel program at

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