Chase Ford photograph

Chase Ford

I’m so excited to be a First Gen Roo mentor! I’m a soon-to-be triple major in Political Science, Environmental Studies, and Philosophy entering my junior year. If you couldn’t tell I like to stay busy so I’m also the Senior Student Recruitment Ambassador for Arts & Sciences, the President of the Mock Trial Team, and a volunteer for Royal Family Kids Camp. After I graduate I plan on going to law school to pursue environmental law and policy. Outside of class you can usually find me researching memes, playing Mario Kart with friends, and looking for the best onion rings in Kansas City.


Jacob Furry photograph

Jacob Furry

I am a junior here at UMKC studying Music Education and Psychology. I have a passion for helping people succeed and increasing educational opportunities for everyone, regardless of background or location, and I love doing this through my involvement in the Trustee’s Scholars Program and as president of the UMKC chapter of the National Association for Music Education. In my free time, I love to explore all that Kansas City has to offer.


Victoria Gomez photograph

Victoria Gomez

As a first generation student, I enjoy learning different perspectives and how my history helps me to move forward. I am a senior at UMKC and will graduate in December with a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis in journalism and a minor in Criminology. Born in Missouri, but raised in Kansas, I spent most of my time playing outdoors, arts and crafts, and cooking with my grandmother. My cat and dog are rocks in my life and share my love of adventure. I value respectable morals and believe in the ability for people to improve and learn through raised awareness.


Samantha Hays photograph

Samantha Hays

I am a senior at UMKC working on a double degree in biology and chemistry. I am from Monroe City, Missouri – where you are significantly more likely to interact with a cow than a person – and I am still excited to be living in the city! I have worked as a medical first responder, a lab assistant at Children’s Mercy, a UMKC School of Law assistant, a tutor, and a live-in UMKC residential assistant – but being a first generation student is the role I take the most pride in.


Lia Hernandez photograph

Thalia “Lia” Hernandez

I am 22 years old, and planning to graduate with my Bachelors in Economics this fall. I was born and raised in Kansas City, KS and attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Science. Coming to UMKC was the best decision I could have made for my future, as I’ve found a second home. As a first generation college student myself, I can’t wait to connect with you and share some experiences!


Kelli Johnson

I will be a senior in the fall. I was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, where I found my love for music and theater. I’m studying Psychology and French, and I hope to work in a field where I can intersect the two such as speech pathology! I love to travel and am always looking for my next adventure. I can’t wait to help other first generation students find their home here at UMKC and reach their full potential!


Amaal Sheikhadan

I am a sophomore at UMKC majoring in Criminal Justice and Criminology and minoring in Political Science. My favorite pastimes include photography, sight-seeing, and trying new restaurants. As a first generation college student, I hope that serving in this role as a mentor will grant me the opportunity to guide and positively impact the college experiences of my mentees!


Helene Slinker

I am a senior first generation student at UMKC, majoring in Political Science, with minors in German Language and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Post-graduation, I am interested in attending law school. During my time at UMKC, I have been involved on campus as a Trustees’ Scholar, an Honors College discussion leader, and member of the debate team. I am also very passionate about studying abroad – I’ve done so twice! I went on a faculty-led trip to Senegal and an independent trip to Prague, Czech Republic. I am so excited to work with a community of first gen students at UMKC!


Austin Thorn photograph

Austin Thorn

I am a native of St. Louis, and I’m going into my last year of a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. I serve as President of UMKC’s Association of Music Therapy Students. My goals include working with children both at home and abroad and pursuing a graduate degree in music therapy. I love to travel. I’ve been to Peru and Germany on scholarship because the best way to travel is to get paid to do it. I’m looking forward to working with students of the First Gen Roo program and helping them to succeed in the KC community.


Mia Flynn

I am the coordinator for First Gen Roo! I was born and raised in Michigan and completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology. I moved to Kansas City to pursue my PhD in Counseling Psychology at UMKC two years ago. I feel very lucky to say that my life is quite a hodgepodge because I get to do a wide variety of things – research, counseling, and serving as a writing consultant on campus. I have always enjoyed work that focuses on personal relationships and development, which is why I am so excited to be a part of First Gen Roo.

Mia Flynn photograph


Alicen Lundberg

I am so thrilled to be working with all these amazing people to build the First Gen Roo program! My own first generation story began when I accidentally took an architecture course at University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a teenager, before continuing at Truman State University where I studied philosophy and English. After almost 10 years at UMKC, my belief in the passion and potential of our students here continues to grow.

Alicen Lundberg photograph


Kristi Holsinger

I am Associate Dean and Professor in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department at UMKC, where I have been on faculty since 1999 with a co-appointment in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. My research recently has focused on innovations in teaching and assessment practices in academic criminal justice programs.

Photo of Kristi Holsinger


Current Student Panel Participants

Kamariah Al-Amin
I will be graduating this fall with a degree in French and Psychology. After earning my degree, I plan to pursue my Masters in Counseling and become a therapist. I absolutely love working with kids and served as a 2nd grade substitute teacher at Académie Lafayette. I’m currently a social media intern with Educate
Organize and Advocate, a social justice conference. Since being at UMKC, I’ve had the chance to study abroad, build amazing relationships, and learn the ins and outs of Kansas City.
Kyle Broley
I am currently a Junior pursuing my Bachelors of Science in Geography with a minor in Geology and pursuing my GIS Certification. As not just a first generation college student, I am also a re-entry student, having two unsuccessful attempts at college under my belt which led me down the path to becoming an Aircraft Mechanic. After moving to Kansas City, MO, I was able to develop a support system and give college lucky try number 3 and have found success through this and my life experiences.
Mela Garcia
Hi! I am a first-generation Mexican-American and am in Year 5 of the 6-year BA/MD program, which means I have completed a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts with a Chemistry minor and currently have two more years left of medical school! Crazy! Besides studies, I am super involved with a vast array of organizations both on
and off-campus, all with the heart of sharing my faith, providing equitable healthcare, building lasting relationships, and raising the current and next generations. It’s my greatest joy to mentor and to facilitate the equipping of others to turn around and do the same.
Ranadous Jones
I’m from Kansas City, Missouri, and currently finishing up my last few semesters at UMKC. I’m a Liberal Arts Major with a minor in Public Health and Chemistry. My goal is to become a Dentist, and possible specialize in Orthodontics. At UMKC I’ve worked in the Office of Student involvement, and very closely with many student led organizations. When I’m not studding, I enjoy fishing, camping, hanging out with friends, and listening to smooth jazz.
Biancia Mount
I am a senior here at UMKC (actually a fifth year due to transferring schools!) studying sociology with an emphasis in cultural anthropology. I hope to go on to graduate school, get my PhD in sociology and cultural anthropology, become a professor, and work with the impoverished populace to create a sustainable yet
high quality of life. I work two part time jobs and have a dog and cat! I’m a first generation college student and an independent student so I have plenty
of resources and problem solving skills when it comes to navigating the college world!
Carlos Olivas
I am 23 years old, I am starting my first year at UMKC School of Pharmacy. I have just recently graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Biology and was born and raised in Kansas City. Being a first generation college student has made me learn a lot about myself and how to use the different outlets
presented by the school. I cannot wait to help every one and anyone along their journey to success through UMKC.
Doneisha Simmons
I am a senior and First Gen Roo student at UMKC. My major is Psychology and my minor is Communication Studies. After graduation, I hope to elevate my business as a Certified Life Coach and become a Pioneer Coach; teaching people in masses to be communicate effectively and become positive influences. I am glad I chose UMKC. I have thoroughly enjoyed the information I’ve obtained in this psychology program and the resources (mostly FREE) available to me as a student. I am also a native of Kansas City, MO and UMKC is in a convenient location for me. I spend my free time relaxing, eating, hanging with friends, traveling, reading, being inspirational and/or cooking.