Celebrating First-gen Students at SDSU!

Martha Enciso Ed.D., San Diego State University / The Center / December 19, 2019


At San Diego State University, we are continuing to advance our first-generation college student success initiative. This year, we recognized our first-generation college students campus wide by organizing a first-generation college student week. Since the national First-Generation College Celebration is November 8, was on a Friday before Veteran’s Day, we decided to celebrate the week of November 4 to encourage more student participation. Colleagues across campus were eager to design sessions and workshops that invited students to their respective centers and/or offices. We were especially eager to partner with graduate students from the College of Education since we had not previously incorporated graduate students into our events. Some of the workshops held throughout SDSU First-Generation College Celebration Week included:

  • The Impact of Family Support
  • Exploring Your Resiliency
  • Stress Management
  • Self-Development
  • Early Preparation for Graduate School - Setting Yourself Up for Future Grad Program
  • Applications
  • Yes, You Can Be (and Should Be) In Honors
  • First-Generation Student Study Abroad Panel
  • Library Resources Information Workshop
  • Internship 101
  • Picnic at Mission Bay with Gates to Success First-Gen Student Organization

SDSU First-Gen Week was advertised on our social media accounts to create awareness of not only the events, but the first-gen student population as well. Of course, we highlighted our First Forward designation, and we were delighted to see our distinction retweeted by President de la Torre as well as the California State University account. To kick off the week, we held a community welcome to bring faculty and staff together to learn about our first-gen efforts campus wide. As is common among some universities and colleges, sometimes we are not aware of what is occurring on-campus due to the silos that exists. The community welcome also gave faculty and staff the opportunity to meet other first-gen faculty and staff. Folks were proud to include their first-gen identity as part of their introductions!

The week ended with a luncheon organized by a faculty member titled “National First-Generation Student Day Celebration!” where first-gen faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students gathered to celebrate first-gen day. Faculty and staff shared personal stories of their journey as a first-generation college student, which inspired students attending the luncheon to continue the conversations after the event was over.

As a result of the luncheon, we are currently working with first-gen graduate students to develop a first-gen graduate student organization as well as to develop more programming. This is a population that we are currently working with to create awareness of first-gen graduate students on-campus as well as to uncover any challenges they are encountering during their academic journey. We are excited to continue our conversations with first-gen graduate students to discover areas in which we can collaborate to develop a strong community of first-gen scholars.