Southeast Arkansas high school students were among more than 50 who participated in the inaugural First Generation Institute at Arkansas Tech University at Russellville.


Pine Bluff participants included David Estrada, Trent Kurz and Sydney Fooster and Rison participants included LaKeya Jones and Caitlyn Courtney.


Held June 13-14, the institute featured students from 34 Arkansas communities including Batesville, Beebe, Benton, Bentonville, Centerton, Conway, De Queen, Dermott, El Dorado, Eudora, Fort Smith, Havana, Hot Springs, Huntington, Little Rock, Lockesburg, Locust Grove, Lowell, Marion, Monticello, Mount Ida, Nashville, North Little Rock, Ogden, Ozark, Pine Bluff, Rison, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Siloam Springs, Star City, Texarkana and Van Buren.


Participants interacted with current ATU students, discovered the academic opportunities at Arkansas Tech, experienced life as a college student, learned how to finance their education, toured ATU and gained insight on becoming involved in campus life, according to a news release.


State Sen. Breanne Davis of Russellville was the closing speaker Friday afternoon. She shared her personal story of persistence that allowed her to graduate from ATU, earn a position on the Russellville School Board at age 26 and be elected to the Arkansas state Senate at age 35.


Nineteen ATU students, each of whom also identify as first-generation college students, served as facilitators for the institute, including Shelby Fitts of Conway, Austin Gilmore of Little Rock, Katie Griffith of White Hall, Alida Gutierrez of Dardanelle, Rosa Gutierrez of Dardanelle, Carter Howard of Harrison, Kyle Howley of Mansfield, Makayla King of Conway, Colton Little of Gentry, Jahaziel Martinez of Russellville, Mayenssi Montiel of Dardanelle, Evan Mosier of Batesville, Jenna Reid of Queen City, Texas, Anna Russell of Fort Smith, Abi Sasore of Dunleer, Ireland, Tyler Schmidt of Mansfield, Wendy Sierra of Russellville, Shane Smith of Fort Smith and Lexi Wright of Clarksville.


Details: www.atu.edu .