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Celebrating First-Gen Week at UHCL: A Week of Connection, Career Insight, and Community Support

Joshua Quinn, University of Houston - Clear Lake / The Center / January 16, 2024

UHCL First Gen Week Collage

The heartbeat of any university lies in the diverse experiences of its students, and at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL), the celebration of these unique journeys took center stage during the recently concluded First-Gen Week. UHCL, with its commitment to fostering a welcoming environment, dedicated an entire week to honor and uplift the first-generation college student identity.

First Gen Week Overview

For UHCL's Center for Student Advocacy and Community (CSAC), spearheading First-Gen Week was a testament to the institution's dedication to the first-gen experience. CSAC curated a week-long event with diverse programs, each tailored to empower and celebrate the first-generation community.

First-Gen Week Kick-Off: The festivities commenced with a campus-wide kick-off event hosted by CSAC, featuring guest speakers, community-building activities, and insightful conversations that set the tone for a week of empowerment.
Career Success Workshops: Collaborating with Career Services, First Gen Week delved into career readiness with events like Resume Lunch-N-Learn, Student & Employer Panel, and Interview Lunch-N-Learn. Workshops aimed to equip first-gen students with valuable skills to navigate the professional world while embracing their unique background.
Faculty & Staff Resource Panel: Housing and Residential Life organized a panel featuring first-gen faculty and staff, sharing personal experiences and providing valuable insights on navigating college life.
First-Gen Friday: Financial Aid Update: CSAC wrapped up the week, featuring the Financial Aid department. Students engaged in discussions about financial aid, scholarships, and upcoming changes to FAFSA.

...being a first-gen student isn't just a label; it's a badge of honor celebrated by all.

Student Participation and Feedback

Navigating a primarily commuter campus presents distinct challenges, yet CSAC transformed them into opportunities by implementing an enticing incentive. Participants earned tickets for each attended event, resulting in a variety of winners. Student engagement exceeded expectations, highlighting the effectiveness of this strategy.

Many students provided feedback throughout the week and thanked programming staff for their support of first-generation students. One such example came from Falisha Lehman, a first-gen student and parent. She shared her experience:

"I love being on a campus that celebrates First-Gen Week. CSAC hosted multiple events and programs over the span of First Gen week that created a safe and inviting space for students, faculty, and staff that identify as first-gen to connect and feel celebrated. As a first-generation student parent who works on campus, I strive to be purposeful with the time I spend away from home and my three school-agers. Initiatives like First Gen Week raise the visibility of students who identify as first-gen by creating spaces for us to connect with one another and to meet faculty and staff hyper focused on providing us with supportive resources to ensure that we keep going from admission to degree acceptance."

First-Gen Week at UHCL transcended the limitations of a commuter campus, creating meaningful connections, providing career insights, and fostering a sense of community. This celebration reinforces the value of a supportive community, highlighting that at UHCL, being a first-gen student isn't just a label; it's a badge of honor celebrated by all.

For more information on University of Houston - Clear Lake's approach, please visit their website here.