It’s First-Generation Week at Stanislaus State, and the University is celebrating by recognizing its community of first-gen college students with a host of activities and events.
Universities nationwide are participating in the annual National First-Generation College Celebration, which honors the anniversary of signing of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. The act emerged from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, which was intended to help level the playing field weighed against Americans from underrepresented, minority and low-income backgrounds.
At Stan State, 75 percent of students are first-generation, meaning their parents or primary guardian did not complete a college degree. Stan State — located in a region that has historically experienced low rates of college education attainment — has the highest percentage of first-gen college students in the 23 campus California State University system.
Studies have shown that adults with at minimum a bachelor’s degree experience better economic outcomes than adults who haven’t completed college. But first-gen college students face more challenges than their peers who have a degreed parent or guardian. Getting a college education is a multi-step, and at times, complex process. First-gen college students can be at a disadvantage because they don’t have a parent or guardian who can help navigate the entire process, which starts in high school with taking preparatory coursework. First-gen college students are at a greater risk of not completing their degree.
Universities have become better equipped to support first-gen students, including Stan State.
In addition to the campus’s TRIO programs, President Ellen Junn launched the President’s Central Valley First-Generation Scholars Initiative that provides scholarships for Central Valley students with demonstrated academic talent who don’t have a family history of higher education.
The initiative is the first in the CSU system to affect and attract first-generation college students from a specific geographic region. In 2020, Stan State became the first university on the West Coast to establish a chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha, an honor society for first-gen students.
First-gen festivities will take place at Stan State from Wednesday, Nov. 3 through Tuesday, Nov. 9. The full schedule is online. Warriors who register for one or more events will receive a free “I am First-Gen” t-shirt compliments of the Stan State Warrior Alumni Association.
Here’s a sample of planned events:
- 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, Quad Kick Off - Tell Us Your Story: Join Warriors as they gather in the Quad for Warrior Wednesday to kickoff the celebration week. Storyboards will be available so Warriors can share their stories. Take pictures and share on social: #StanStateFirstGen and #CelebrateFirstGen.
- 2-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, Our Stories Matter: Join staff, students and alumni who identify as first-generation college students as they share their personal stories.
- 10 a.m.to noon Friday, Nov. 5, On-Campus Jobs at Stan State: Students will connect with campus departments that are hiring to ask questions about open positions, requirements or the application process.
- 2:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, Career Panel: Success as a First-Gen Professional: First-gen professionals share their strategies for success, challenges they faced and how students can succeed in their transition from college to career.
Also planned are an in-person dinner and brunch. Capacity is limited and requires advanced registration. Alumni Engagement Director Karlha Davies said the dinner will connect first-gen alumni and students in an intimate casual setting to share stories of perseverance “and to remind students that they are not alone, that they have alumni who have walked in their shoes and who are more than willing to mentor and show up for them.”