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Campuses Around the Country Celebrate First-Generation Students on November 8!

November 15, 2018

On November 8, 2018 — the 53rd Anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965 — the Council for Opportunity in Education once again partnered with the Center for First-generation Student Success for the second annual First Generation College Celebration. The response to the first celebration in 2017 was so positive that it was decided to make it a yearly event.

COE asked college campuses around the nation to hold rallies, panel discussions, listening sessions, and more in recognition of their first-generation students. Here are just some of the events held in celebration of first-generation college students.

At California State University, Sacramento, students, faculty, staff, and community members were encouraged to participate in a day of activities across campus. Highlights of the day-long event included a first-generation resource fair featuring first-gen student support services, a breakfast reception, a photo booth, a brown bag session on teaching first-gen students, a First-Generation Graduate Student panel, and a closing reception.

The University of New Mexico-Albuquerque (UNM) held its First-Generation Celebration on Friday, November 9. The celebration featured students, staff and faculty who are first-generation sharing their success stories. The event was attended by Dr. Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dr. Tim Gutierrez, Associate Vice President of Student Services. The event was open to the entire campus.

The Student Support Services office held a campaign to pass out “F1RST GEN PROUD” buttons that were distributed to the academic advising community, Student Affairs offices and colleges within UNM. Buttons were given out at the local coffee merchant in their student union as well.

Boise State University’s Upward Bound project held a First-Generation College Celebration at Caldwell High School — one of the schools they serve. Educational specialist, Joshua Engler, thought it was important to hold the celebration at the high school to raise awareness and begin the important discussion with staff and students about what is means to be a first-generation college student.

The students planned the entire event, selecting the color (yellow to signify confidence, optimism, and success) and designing a logo. They collected statements from first-gen students (TRIO Upward Bound alumni) and first-gen staff at Caldwell High School. The statements were displayed throughout the school. The students also planned and moderated a discussion during lunch that included a panel of current college students and graduates who are first-generation.

At the University of Utah, the TRIO programs partnered with the Offices of Engagement and Undergraduate Studies to host a full week of festivities. The celebration started with a student, faculty, and staff panel that discussed the college going process, the experiences of first-gen college students in a large research university, and what it means to be a first-generation professional. The host departments sponsored a meet and greet with first-gen advocates and a student resource fair. The week ended with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Student Support Services program at the university with guest speakers COE President Emeritus Dr. Arnold Mitchem and Kathy Felker, founding TRIO director at the university.

Texas A&M University will be celebrating their first-generation college students throughout the month of November. Starting on November 8, #CelebrateFirstGen tables were set up in the Memorial Student Center where undergraduate research staff highlighted first-generation students and the strengths they bring to their pursuits in a companion social media campaign.

Students, faculty, and staff visiting the #CelebrateFirstGen tables could pick up a choice of fresh fruit and/or candy and a button to wear celebrating first-generation students at Texas A&M or proclaiming their own first-generation status. First-generation students could have their portraits taken with an Instax camera and see themselves added to the “We are First-Gen Aggies” poster.

The completed portrait boards will be on display in the university’s Sterling C. Evans Library until Thanksgiving break, accompanied by a curated display of books and other items created by first-generation authors and artists.

Colorado State University’s First Generation University Initiative (FGUI) held an event on the Lory Student Center Plaza to honor first-generation college students, complete with cookies, swag, a podcast, and fun photo opportunities. The FGUI is launching a new multi-year awareness and education campaign on campus to go with this year’s national first-gen day. The campaign includes “Proud to be First Gen” stickers, posters, and a new website — with information about the initiative, resources for faculty on mentoring and other tips for engaging first-gen students, and a call for faculty and staff to get involved. To listen to the podcast, please click here.

The University of South Dakota hosted a First-Generation College Celebration Day in the Muenster University Center. The event included drop-by button making with sayings like, “Proud to be First” and “I'm A First-Gen Coyote”, a photo booth, and cookie decorating station.

Students were able to engage with interactive displays regarding First-Generation trivia, write notes of encouragement, and contribute to building a brochure depicting the first-generation student experience by sharing their feedback. They also created “I Support First-Gen" window stickers that faculty/staff could put in their offices for students to know they are welcome in that space. Students who participated in a First-Gen "Did You Know" survey in the days preceding the event, were entered into a raffle to win a prize.

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana hosted a weeklong celebration with a different event or activity each day. The goal was to raise awareness surrounding the first-generation student experience and challenges, as well as opportunities to help first-gen students feel included and embraced by the Ivy Tech community.

On Monday, November 5, the week kicked-off with an e-mail campaign featuring "1st Gen" stories and advice from previously interviewed first-generation faculty and staff. On Tuesday, November 6, there was a "Chalk Walk" where first-generation students were invited to write messages in chalk around campus offering helpful tips, words of encouragement, and motivational quotes for first-gen students. On Wednesday, November 7, the TRIO Leadership Council, a student organization, hosted an event featuring a first-gen student panel, lunch, and a resource fair of campus resources. On Thursday, November 8, the college partnered with TRIO programs at local four-year institutions to conduct a First-Gen Student Rally. First-generation students were invited to create signs and help raise awareness about the first-gen student experience. Finally, on Friday, the weeklong celebration ended with a small thank you luncheon for all participants. This served as a great opportunity for first-gen students, staff, and faculty to create a long-lasting relationship and bolster student support.

These are just some of many events honoring first-generation students that took place on or around November 8, 2018. To learn more about the First-Generation College Celebration, please click here and here. Also, use the hashtag #CelebrateFirstGen across social media to see how other college campuses took part in the celebration!


Texas Christian University and the Pursuit of HappineSSS

October 3, 2018

During the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 37th Annual Conference in New York City, Texas Christian University (TCU) was honored as the winner of the Student Support Services 50th Anniversary Student Video Contest.

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2018 Indicators Report Released at National Press Club, Encourages Dialogue among Scholars

June 15, 2018

On May 17, 2018, The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Education (Pell Institute) of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (PennAHEAD), released the Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2018 Historical Trend Report at a meeting at the National Press Club.

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Past Presidents Unite for 40th Anniversary of MO-KAN-NE

May 7, 2018

On April 4-6, 2018, the MO-KAN-NE (Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska) Chapter of the Educational Opportunity Association (EOA) celebrated its 40th Anniversary at their Annual Conference.

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Students Celebrate National TRIO Day 2018

March 16, 2018

TRIO Day began on February 24, 1986, when a congressional resolution (H. Con. Res. 278) declared that Saturday, February 28, 1986, should be designated as "National TRIO Day" to commemorate the annual achievements of the Federal TRIO programs.

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The University of Connecticut's Center for Academic Programs Celebrates Their 50th Anniversary

January 29, 2018

On October 28, 2017, the University of Connecticut's Center for Academic Programs (CAP) celebrated 50 years of Changing Lives through Educational Access with a gala on the Storrs campus.

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Campuses Celebrate First-Generation Students

November 22 2017

Here are just some of the activities that occurred around the country on November 8, 2017. Check out #celebratefirstgen on social media to learn even more!

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Capitol Hill Celebrates First-Generation College Students

November 13, 2017

On November 8, 2017, the Council for Opportunity in Education, in partnership with NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, hosted the first annual celebration of First-Generation College Students on Capitol Hill.

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Morehead State University TRIO Program Helps Incarcerated Students

November 2, 2017

Any criminal conviction puts significant barriers before those wanting to improve their lives. It also reduces the pool of job candidates unnecessarily, according to two women who are working to help former inmates become college-bound students.

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McNair: From Limited Opportunities to Undreamed-of Careers

October 10, 2017

Despite a childhood of limited opportunity, Davarian Baldwin dreamed that he could become a politician or lawyer with predictable success.

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Helping Veterans Make the Most of the G.I. Education Bill

July 21, 2017

Julia Gusse can't tell you much about her service in the United States Air Force. She had top-secret clearance.

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Upward Bound Director of 40 Years Finishes His Career Defending Wittenberg University Program

June 14, 2017

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, said the Roman philosopher Seneca. And Eddie Chambers, Upward Bound program director for 40 years at Wittenberg University, was plenty prepared on March 22nd when he landed in Chicago and glanced at his cell phone before making his connecting flight back home to Ohio.

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Penn State's Talent Search Program: Strengthening Schools, Students

May 15, 2017

To sense the passion that Christal Graham-Jones has for her job as a Talent Search counselor, one only has to look at what she calls her "wall of fame," outside her office door at Sharon High School in Pennsylvania.

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TRIO Student Testifies Before Congress

March 31, 2017

Living in Greenville all my life helped me believe in the American Dream. But belief isn't enough. You also need hard work.

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TRIO Helped Homeless Student Succeed; She Helped Shake Up the System

March 14, 2017

After her first year of college, Jessica McCormick got the dreaded letter from the dean: pull your grades up or you'll be dismissed.

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Book Club Blazes Pathways to Leadership

February 27, 2017

"There's something special that happens when you get a group of powerful women in a room... and shut the door," wrote Andrea Wong in the forward of her book, "Secrets of Powerful Women: Leading Change for a New Generation."

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From Homelessness to Entrepreneurship with TRIO as the Spark

January 26, 2017

Ten years ago Hunter Lin was 11 years-old and working two jobs in China. Today he's a graduate nursing student at Johns Hopkins University and founder of a biomedical start-up company that hopes to launch technology at the end of 2017 to change how diseases are diagnosed around in the world. He credits TRIO with giving him a chance.

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As Actress Viola Davis' Star Soars, Others Recall Upward Bound Beginnings

January 3, 2017

When internationally-acclaimed actress Viola Davis gains her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Jan. 5, two special people will be among the many around the world cheering her on: Her older sister, Deloris Grant, and the sisters' earliest acting coach, Ron Stetson.The federal Upward Bound program links all three.

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