I AM THE FIRST
Megan Nord M.Ed., / The Center / November 21, 2019
On November 4, 2019 South Seattle College (South) celebrated first-generation college day. The full day event brought together students, staff, and faculty across campus in a true community celebration of shared identity. The student population at South is over 15,000, 49% first-generation college students, and 53% students of color. Because of the high representation of first-generation college students on campus, this event was highly publicized and shared across the campus. The buildup towards the event was felt across campus as many departments were collaborating on presentations, set up, tabling, etc. The day’s activities were split between the morning and afternoon which allowed for more accessibility and ease of access to participation from folks across the campus.
The celebration’s morning events featured a ‘Social Capital’ workshop led by South’s Embedded Career Specialists. The workshop discussed the importance of social capital and how to create and leverage those relationships to assist in one’s professional development. For this workshop, faculty were asked to RSVP if they wanted to bring their classes. We had an enormous turnout for this workshop with over 200 attendees! Students practiced their elevator pitch and discussed how to utilize social media to build a professional network, especially through LinkedIn. One of the featured pieces of this workshop was offering free professional headshots to attendees so they could upload their professional photo to their LinkedIn account! In addition, the morning also included an alumni and staff panel. Students in the audience were able to listen to others who identify as first-gen, and gain insights from similar struggles and how they’ve persisted in their academic journey. This meaningful panel also offered students the chance to engage one-on-one with members of the panel in small group discussions, and led to deep discourse of how cultural norms affect first-generation student experiences.
After the morning sessions, the event turned into an open resource fair and celebration. Departments from across campus tabled to provide resources to students such as: scholarships, financial aid, disability services, etc. There was also a photo booth where students could use the Snapchat filter that had been created for the event to snap a picture with their friends at the event. During the celebration, there were also light refreshments offered to students including cake and macrons!
Overall, the first-generation student celebration was a wonderful success! Staff, faculty, and students joined together to share in the celebration of the day’s festivities and in recognition of an identity that binds so many shared experiences together. The event could not have been so successful if there was not cross campus commitment and collaboration to host and promote a large, campus wide event such as this. With attendee numbers reaching over 300, we feel the event was both well-received and well-attended!
South Seattle College hopes to continue this celebration annually and create a resource page focused on first-generation student identity to our website to demonstrate the campus’s commitment and recognition of first-generation students! Check out the Twitter Moment.
To learn more about how South Seatle College support first-gen student, click here.