Inaugural First-Generation College Student Celebration for Nursing Students

Angela Watts Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio / The Center / January 31, 2023

Three nursing students in orange scrubs posing in front of

The School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health SA) provided the inaugural “First-Generation College Student Celebration” on November 8, 2022. The Student Success Center organized the event for students, faculty, and staff. It was a day of celebration for all who identify as first-generation students themselves and those who are advocates for first-generation students. An essential component of the celebration was the inclusion of all members of our community who identify as first-generation college students–faculty, staff, and current students. The celebration’s goals were to identify and celebrate first-generation college students and, importantly, to help first-generation students see themselves represented among faculty and staff.

Faculty, staff, and students were featured the entire week on a monitor located in a high-trafficked area. Featured individuals had the opportunity to share their experiences, advice for other first-generation students, or a favorite story about their experience of being the first in their family to attend college. Passersby enjoyed stopping to learn more about their colleagues and were inspired by many of the stories.

One of the most popular aspects of the celebration was an Instagram takeover. The Student Success Center partnered with the School of Nursing Journalism student organization, which manages the school’s Instagram account, to have a first-generation student take over the account for the day. The student gave followers a glimpse into a day in the life of a nursing student, answered questions about being a first-generation nursing student, and highlighted the tabling event held for the entire School of Nursing community.

Another invaluable partnership was with the University’s marketing and communication team. The team was instrumental in helping create first-generation student stickers and door signs for distribution. The celebration concluded with tabling, which included swag, stickers, snacks, door signs, and an “I’m first-gen” photo backdrop. There was also a large sign on the wall where first-gen students, faculty, and staff could share the reasons they are proud of this part of their identity. It was a simple yet powerful addition to the celebration. One student shared, “I never thought it could start with me.” Another student said, “I’m doing this to make a better future for the next generation of my family.” The entire community enjoyed sharing their own reasons and reading thoughts from others. 

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio'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!