SHU's National First-Gen Day Celebrations
Nicole LaCapria Ph.D., Seton Hall University / The Center / February 15, 2023
Each year Seton Hall University welcomes an incoming class that is 25-30% first-generation students. We are proud to offer a variety of programs that serve first-generation students to ensure their collegiate success. This year, in honor of National First-Generation Day, the first-gen-serving programs, Gen 1 and RISE (Resilience, Integrity, Scholarship and Excellence), partnered to celebrate all first-generation students, faculty, and staff on campus. These festivities would not have been possible without the support of the NASPA First-Generation College Celebration grant.
It was important to us to extend the celebrations beyond the annual National First-Generation Day. This led to the creation of First-Generation Fridays, which we dedicated to our first-generation students. On several Fridays during the semester, we held in-person events, community meetings, or posted on social media to represent all the amazing first-generation students, faculty members, and staff on campus.
These festivities would not have been possible without the support of the NASPA First-Generation College Celebration grant.
On Friday, November 4th, we tabled for National Celebration Day and provided students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to grab coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts and share what being first-gen means to them. Staff members in the Gen 1 program responded to questions asked and exchanged meaningful dialogue with the students. People connected with each other while grabbing food and drinks and playing lawn games. We also gave out first-gen swag such as t-shirts, stickers, and luggage tags. Crucially, we shared more about each of the programs that serve first-generation students. We came to realize that some students were unaware that they qualified. Celebrations and conversations surrounding first-generation students not only create a sense of pride and community, but also provide needed information and awareness.
RISE held their community meetings and events on First-Generation Fridays. These are an opportunity for the students to learn more about campus resources, utilization of technology, student presentations, and review of future events. Our brand new first-gen swag was distributed during their welcome back event to further boost first-gen pride!
Celebrations and conversations surrounding first-generation students not only create a sense of pride and community, but also provide needed information and awareness.
Last year, we brought Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha), a National First-Generation Honor Society, to campus. We are proud to have inducted another 47 students to our Epsilon Iota chapter on one of our First-Gen Fridays! Nearly 100 students were inducted in just our first year. Being able to highlight the academic excellence and success of first-generation students is a point of pride for us.
Another initiative was connecting with our Office of Student Engagement so we could feature first-gen students, faculty, and staff on their Instagram page. This allowed us to reach more students who may not be already connected with one of our support programs.
Collaborating with the various programs servicing first-generation students allowed us to provide a myriad of events where conversations and community building for first-generation students, faculty, and staff became paramount. The funds received from the grant permitted us to create these opportunities of witness, testimony, pride, and honor. We will continue our Instagram posts on First-Gen Fridays, and we will continue with additional events in the hopes that first-gen is not just celebrated on November 8th, but every day!
Seton Hall University'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!