National First-Generation College Celebration Highlights Adult Learners During Annual Recognition of First-Generation College Students and Alumni

On November 8, 2022, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the Center for First-generation Student Success, a joint initiative of NASPA and the Suder Foundation, will lead the national efforts for the sixth annual First-Generation College Celebration.

November 8 marks the 57th anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which has helped millions of first-generation students persist to degree completion. As 2022 also coincides with the 50th anniversaries of the Pell grant and TRIO’s Educational Opportunity Centers and Veterans Upward Bound programs, this year’s celebration will emphasize adult learners.

“The First-Generation College Celebration is an annual opportunity to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of first-gen students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” said COE President Maureen Hoyler. “At the same time, we can work with K-12 and higher education institutions, non-profits, corporations, and other interested stakeholders to bring awareness to the needs of this population.”

Launched by COE and the Center for First-generation Student Success in 2017, the First-Generation College Celebration (FGCC) has united hundreds of college campuses across the country in uplifting an often-overlooked population through numerous events, including student rallies, faculty-led panel discussions, artistic performances, and more in recognition of first-generation students, administrators, faculty, and alumni.

At the national level, COE and the Center for First-generation Student Success will co-host a virtual event featuring a panel moderated by Brenda Dann-Messier, Ed.D., Senior Advisor with the Education Strategy Group; former Rhode Island Post-Secondary Commissioner; and past Assistant Secretary for Career, Technology, & Adult Education.

The panel includes Kelly Brochu, Ed.D., Assistant to the President for Special Projects at Regis College; Matthew Donovan, Director of Educational Access Programs at Morehead State University; and Vanessa Sheared, Ed.D., President of the Board of Directors at the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. Each panelist will discuss the first-generation adult learner identity, share their unique experiences as first-generation college graduates, and offer insight into tools and resources for first-generation students.

This event will be broadcast twice: Tuesday, November 1, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. ET and Wednesday, November 2, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. ETRegistration is free and open to all.

“The First-Generation College Celebration brings attention to the accomplishments of a population representing one-third of all currently enrolled college students,” said Sarah E. Whitley, Ph.D., Vice President at the Center for First-generation Student Success. “Not only that but advancing an asset-based national narrative on first-generation student experiences and outcomes is one way to help first-gen students understand the tremendous strengths they bring to our communities.”

To learn more about the First-Generation College Celebration, view the media kit, or see highlights from past celebrations, visit the National First-Generation College Celebration page. You can also track and view activities and events from across the country on social media by searching for #CelebrateFirstGen.

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries or to arrange an interview, please contact Terrance L. Hamm, Associate Vice President of Communications and Marketing via email: [email protected] or call (202) 347-7430.

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