Breaking Barriers, Igniting Success: SPC’s First to Finished Week
Amber Estlund, St. Petersburg College / The Center / February 07, 2024
As a large, multi-site, state college, centralizing efforts to launch a new initiative can be a challenge. However, St. Petersburg College (SPC) recently demonstrated just how important first-generation student success is as the college successfully hosted a week of events culminating on November 8th’s National First-Generation College Day. First to Finished, SPC’s first-generation student success group, brought together students, faculty, staff, and administrators from across the college and the county to raise awareness, showcase first-generation student support, and celebrate all first-generation students past and present.
On November 3rd, First to Finished kicked off their efforts with a faculty and staff mixer. The goal of this event was to de-stigmatize what it means to be first-generation by encouraging first-generation faculty and staff as well as first-generation allies to share their first-gen stories, network, and discuss how to better support SPC’s large first-generation population (approximately 14,000 students). With over twenty people in attendance, including three of SPC’s Vice Presidents, the mixer proved to be the perfect way to kick-off our celebration and demonstrated the institution’s desire to better serve our first-generation population.
The following Monday, First to Finished, in collaboration with Student Life & Leadership, hosted cake celebrations at each of the college’s five major learning sites. First-generation students and first-generation student allies were invited to stop by for a piece of cake and a free First to Finished t-shirt, featuring the #SPCFirstGen hashtag. Students were encouraged to wear their shirts and post to social media platforms on November 8th to participate in National First-Generation College Day. With over 500 participants, this event assisted First to Finished by familiarizing students with the resources the College provides, including a special first-generation honor cord when they graduate.
Overall, the week was well-received by the college community. Not only was First to Finished able to promote their efforts to ensure first-generation student success and celebrate National First-Generation College Day, but they were able to expand their work by forming cross-divisional partnerships across the expanse of their learning sites. Dr. Jamelle Connor, Vice-President of Student Affairs stated, “I am so proud of the leadership of our student affairs team, along with key individuals from academic affairs, as we elevate the first-generation student experience at St. Petersburg College. The celebrations surrounding national first-gen day aligned perfectly with our dedication to ensuring students feel welcome and supported both inside and outside of the classroom.” One thing is certain: all of St. Petersburg College is committed to advancing its support of its first-generation students to ensure their ultimate completion and success!