First-generation college students display resilience on path toward graduation

Penn State to celebrate first-generation student community Nov. 8

November 2, 2022

By Sean Yoder

Editor’s note: The full version of this article originally appeared on Penn State News. Mahima Kania, Penn State mechanical engineering alumna, was featured. 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State will hold its annual First-Generation Celebration on Nov. 8 to celebrate Penn Staters, promote campus resources and bring awareness to the first-generation community at Penn State. 

Recent Penn State first-generation students said that finding their way and pushing across the finish line instilled them with a sense of accomplishment.

Mahima Kania, who is from Gujarat, India, she became the first woman engineer among her extended family and the first to earn a bachelor’s degree from a foreign university when she graduated from Penn State in 2021 with a major in mechanical engineering and a minor in information sciences and technology. 

Kania now works as a GPS consulting analyst for Deloitte in Salt Lake City.

As an international student at Penn State, Kania said she had to learn a lot on her own to be successful. 

“It was a challenge,” she said. She spent a lot of time on the application and visa processes and navigating Penn State as a first-generation student. 

Kania took what she learned and was determined to help others in their journey. She became involved in the International Student Council at Penn State and later served as the organization’s director of public relations and marketing, then vice president. Kania said that international students face additional barriers to opportunities such as U.S. internships because of the visa process. 

“It was very important for me to help these students get more comfortable and have a welcoming experience,” she said of her work on the council. 

Kania participated in several internships during her time at Penn State, including spending a summer interning for Comcast in Atlanta, which led to her first full-time job with the company as an operations engineer after graduation.

“Keep pushing, keep driving yourself and others around you,” Kania advised other first-generation students. “It will seem like a battle at the start, but it will happen.” 

To learn more about First-Generation Celebration Day, visit the Student Success Center website. First-Generation Celebration Day is co-sponsored by the Student Success Center and the First-Gen Advocates student organization.  

The Student Success Center is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education



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