Celebrating Montco Momentum and Pride in our First-gen Students and Graduates

Diane VanDyke, Montgomery County Community College / The Center / February 28, 2023

Two staff members posing in front of step and repeat for First-Generation College Celebration

First-Generation College Celebration Day was a time to applaud our hard-working, determined students who are the first in their families to pursue a college degree. Forging their pathways, they are building brighter futures for themselves, their families, and our communities.

It was with great pride that we hosted first-gen celebrations at our Blue Bell and Pottstown Campuses on November 7 and November 8, respectively, to honor our first-gen students, employees, and alumni. For inspiration, the events featured a display of famous and successful first-gen graduates, including Montco’s very own President, Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez, as well as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, and the late Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

First-gen students who participated in the events shared their information by completing signs that read  “Why I’m First,” or “First Gen Student, Future ________” or “I celebrate being #firstgen because . . .” To encourage others, they posed with the signs and poster boards for photographs that were shared on social media. They also received first-gen buttons to wear on their shirts and backpacks.

In addition to recognizing our first-gen students, we also acknowledged Montco’s employees who identified as first-gen college graduates. These role models were given magnets to proudly display in their offices or classrooms to let students know the importance achieving their educational goals.

[We] know firsthand the transformational impact higher education has had for our careers and leadership experiences. And, because of our experiences, we want to provide students with similar life-altering opportunities.

Following our fun on-campus events, we also held a special online event to connect our first-gen students and alumni members on November 9. The first-gen alumni participants shared stories of their own experiences of challenges and accomplishments as students and as professionals in their various fields. They also provided advice and encouragement to current first-gen Montco student attendees.

Last year, Montco held its inaugural Alpha Alpha Alpha National Honor Society induction ceremony to celebrate the achievements of 102 new members. The inductees included students who earned at least 30 credits toward their degrees and GPAs of 3.2 or higher. In addition to the student inductees, first-gen employees and honorary members who were willing to serve as mentors and advocates also were inducted. It was a wonderful occasion to bring everyone together to highlight the importance of higher education.

As we previously mentioned, Montco’s President, Dr. Bastecki-Perez, is a first-gen college graduate, and in honor of her presidential inauguration and legacy at Montco, she and her husband established the first presidential scholarships to help pave the way for first-gen college students. She and her husband Santos, also a first-gen college graduate, “know firsthand the transformational impact higher education has had for our careers and leadership experiences. And, because of our experiences, we want to provide students with similar life-altering opportunities.”

Founded in 1964, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the lifelong learning needs of Montgomery County residents, visitors, and businesses. Known for academic excellence based on the successes of more than 90,000 alumni, we have been recognized multiple times for having the nation’s top faculty and for being the most technologically advanced community college in the country.

Montgomery County Community College's 2022 First-Generation College Celebration was made possible by a $500 grant from the Center for First-generation Student Success and the Council for Opportunity in Education. Learn more about their celebration here!