December 1, 2021
Yesterday, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution designating November 8th as “National First-Generation College Celebration Day.” November 8 is annually recognized as the anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965, signed into law 56 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
“As a first-generation college graduate, I know I would not have been able to open all the doors Morehouse College provided for me if it were not for the Higher Education Act of 1965,” said lead sponsor Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock. “College education is a gateway to a brighter life, and I am proud to partner with Sen. Marshall in spearheading this bipartisan effort to recognize National First-Generation College Celebration Day—and this is just the start. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make it easier for more students to achieve their higher education dreams.”
“As a first-generation college kid myself, I understand the challenge of trying to balance the demands of academic life with working a full-time job,” said Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS). “Today’s students dealing with the same obstacles have a special place in my heart, and I’m honored to highlight their hard work and dedication on National First-Generation College Celebration Day.”
Led by Warnock and Marshall, a bipartisan team of Senators helped steer S. Res. 437 to passage under unanimous consent, helping further to solidify the importance of November 8 as a day to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of first-generation college students. To view the Senate resolution text and list of 19 bipartisan cosponsors, click here.
First launched in 2017 by the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, National First-Generation College Celebration Day calls on the nation’s colleges and universities to expand awareness and celebrate the accomplishments of their first-generation students, staff, faculty, and alumni with institution-wide initiatives. What began as a small celebration involving a handful of institutions has grown to include hundreds of campuses and supporters across various sectors.
“First-generation students often carry college full course loads while working full-time jobs to support themselves and help their families,” said Maureen Hoyler, COE President. “These students are first in their families to meet these new challenges to break the cycle of poverty. They’re remarkable and deserve great recognition.”
“The goal of November 8 is to advance an asset-based national narrative around first-generation student experiences and outcomes and call attention to the accomplishments of this population representing one-third of all currently enrolled college students,” said Sarah E. Whitley, Assistant Vice President of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “We’re encouraging all campuses to use First-Generation College Celebration to understand better the systemic barriers plaguing equitable access to higher education and the supports necessary for this important and resilient population to continue thriving.”