University of Maine at Farmington's First-Gen Day Celebrations

Brooke-Lynn Hinkley, University of Maine at Farmington / The Center / December 23, 2022

Three TRIO staff members tabling in hallway

The TRIO Johnson Scholars program at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) celebrated First-Gen Day with a variety of activities and events that allowed the campus community to celebrate first-generation college students. Nearly 50% of students at UMF are the first in their families to attend college, and many of the faculty and staff were, themselves, first-generation college students.

In anticipation of the day's festivities, Johnson Scholars staff created and distributed door hangers to staff, faculty, and students that can be hung on doorknobs for offices or dorms. The door hangers, decorated with the school mascot and colors, are double-sided, with one side expressing “Proud to Be First-Gen” while the opposite side declares “Proud to Support First-Gen Students.”

These door hangers, along with buttons, popcorn, and more, were also offered on the day of our First-Gen celebrations, National First-Generation College Celebration Day. On this day, we gathered in the Olsen Student Center to celebrate the first-gen community at UMF. Students, faculty, and staff alike stopped by to converse about their experiences and take advantage of these offerings, as well as to our craft stations.

The continuation of these updates allows current students to see that there are many people they interact with in a professional and academic setting...who are or were first-generation college students.

In addition to the buttons that had been prepared with a variety of designs expressing pride in or support of the first-generation college experience, there was a button-making station, allowing attendees to make their own button to celebrate. We also had a banner-making station where attendees could decorate a pennant in response to the question “what does being first-gen mean to you?” The pennants were collected and added to a banner which is now housed in the Johnson Scholars Lounge.

During this time, there was also a photographer available to take portraits of current or former first-generation college students who are part of the UMF community as part of our #FirstgenProud Poster Project, which is aimed to promote the visibility of our first-gen community on campus. Although there are portrait posters hanging in buildings across campus from previous years, new pictures continue to be taken and new posters put up in an effort to ensure that the posters display current members of our community. The continuation of these updates allows current students to see that there are many people they interact with in a professional and academic setting, both classmates and staff members, who are or were first-generation college students.

Finally, to conclude our First-Gen Day celebration, a group of staff, faculty, and students made their way to Ferro Alumni House for the second weekly First-Gen Book Club meeting, organized by Johnson Scholars and co-facilitated by TRIO alumni Brooke-Lynn Hinkley and Gavin Pickering. The book club met four times throughout the month of November to discuss the memoir Educated by Tara Westover. There was also extensive inter-campus discussion of the book in December. The book served as a discussion starter about the struggles and triumphs of first-generation college students and how that applies to the community here at UMF. 

University of Maine at Farmington'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!