From October 30th through November 3rd, the University of Michigan will host the First-Generation College Student Celebration Week, inviting the entire campus community to come together, celebrate and better understand the unique experiences of first-generation college students. This dedicated week offers a chance for faculty, staff and students to celebrate, learn about, and engage, with U-M’s first-generation college student community.
This tradition aligns with colleges and universities nationwide who join in hosting events and commemorations around November 8th. This date marks Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, a landmark moment in history. The act laid the foundation for federal financial aid programs, vital for funding students’ education. It included crucial investments in higher education institutions. The Federal TRIO programs, which emerged as part of the HEA, are of particular significance. These programs prioritize equitable access, retention, and successful completion of post-secondary education for today’s first-generation college students and those with limited income.
While First-Generation Celebrations acknowledge the invaluable contributions of first-generation college students to their communities and the broader realm of higher education, they also spotlight the pressing need for systemic changes. These changes are crucial to dismantling the barriers that often impede the success of first-generation college students in their academic journeys.
“For a long time, the experience of being first-generation has been framed as a deficit or something that only creates challenges. But first-generation students come from so many backgrounds and have so many experiences that contributed to their coming to college and their success,” says Terra Molengraff, Director of First-Generation Student Initiatives at the University of Michigan.
The University of Michigan, with its commitment to inclusivity and diversity, continues to champion the cause of first-generation college students. As First-Generation College Student Celebration Week approaches, the institution stands poised to reaffirm its dedication to these students and their pursuit of academic excellence. First-Generation Initiatives are a collaborative initiative of the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, the Office of New Student Programs and the Comprehensive Studies Program.
Engage and Celebrate: First-Gen Week
In the spirit of fostering a vibrant community for first-generation college students, the University of Michigan is gearing up for an enriching and inclusive First-Gen Celebration Week at the end of October with the following events.
Share Your Story: Embrace Diversity, Amplify Voices
As the calendar approaches First-Gen Celebration Week, the university encourages its community members to join in and “Share Your Story.” An online form will provide a platform for individuals to articulate what being first-generation means to them personally. It’s an opportunity to illustrate this group’s diverse range of experiences, emphasizing that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ narrative. The stories will be featured on the First-Generation Website and on the following Instagram accounts (@umfirstgen, @oamiumich, @UMichDiversity).
Visibility Day: Proudly Wear Your Michigan First-Gens T-Shirts
On Friday, November 3rd, the University of Michigan will celebrate Visibility Day, urging all first-generation college students within the community to don “Michigan First-Gens” t-shirts, proudly displaying their unique identity. This day also encourages staff, faculty, and administrators who identify as having been first-generation college students to share their personal journeys with colleagues and students, fostering a sense of unity and support within the campus community. An event co-sponsored by the First-Gen Gateway and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in Mason Hall near the Posting Wall will provide an opportunity for first-generation college students to share what it means to be first-gen and take a photo to celebrate their shared experiences.
Marketing Toolkit: Show Your Pride and Support
The university offers a comprehensive Marketing Toolkit, accessible on the first-generation college student website. It is designed to empower individuals to show their pride and support for the first-generation college student experience. This toolkit includes a range of resources, such as Zoom backgrounds, social media graphics, office signs, and logos, enabling everyone to join the celebration.
First-Gen Celebration Week at the University of Michigan promises to be a dynamic and enlightening experience, championing inclusivity, understanding, and the celebration of diverse voices within the first-generation college student community.