The 2021 NASPA Virtual First-generation Student Success Conference, as part of the NASPA Virtual Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education, will convene scholars and practitioners from June 26-30, 2021, to discuss how higher education professionals across the academy can develop effective approaches to support and improve the outcomes of first-generation college students.

The NASPA Virtual Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education convenes the student success-focused community to engage in important professional development, exchange innovative ideas, and network with peers. You will engage with content from the Assessment Persistence, and Data Analytics Conference, the inaugural Dismantling Systemic Barriers to Student Success Conference, and the First-generation Student Success Conference in a virtual event platform.

About the First-generation Student Success Conference

The NASPA Virtual Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education convenes the student success-focused community to engage in important professional development, exchange innovative ideas, and network with peers. Through an exciting new virtual platform, you will engage with content from the Assessment, Persistence, and Data Analytics Conference, the inaugural Dismantling Systemic Barriers to Student Success Conference, and the First-generation Student Success Conference without the need to travel.

In addition to a robust selection of educational programming, the virtual conference will offer multiple dynamic keynotes, thought-provoking pre-conference workshops, virtual exhibit hall offerings, and real-time active engagement.

The NASPA Virtual Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education is your opportunity to take a cross-functional approach to student success when it has never been more important.

  • Understand the lived experiences and vast intersectionality of first-generation college students across academic years, institutional types, and sectors.

  • Discuss systemic and institutional barriers first-generation students face in higher education and identify asset-based strategies.

  • Identify and utilize strategies for supporting first-generation students and bridging gaps in cultural capital through asset-based programmatic approaches, services, and skill-building.

  • Discuss and implement approaches for creating an engaged campus community that identifies, supports, and celebrates first-generation college students.

  • Recognize and engage with scholarly literature and current research critical to understanding and advancing first-generation student outcomes.

  • Consider evaluation, assessment, and data strategies for understanding and improving institutional and programmatic first-generation initiatives.

2021 Conference Advisory Committee

The Conference Advisory Committee (CAC), in partnership with the NASPA conference planning staff, provides overall support of the Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education (SSHE). The CAC serves as an advocate for the SSHE experience, ensures that conference programming and activities are linked to the learning outcomes of the conferences, and assists with the development of the overall attendee experience. Thank you for the First-generation Student Success Conference Advisory Committee!

First-generation Student Success Conference
Lamesha Brown, Ph.D.
St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Whitley Johnson, M.A.Ed
University of Miami
Alicia Sanchez, MBA
Wichita State University
Jennifer Schoen, M.Ed
Northeastern University
Gourjoine Wade, Ed.D.
Grambling State University


Featured Speakers

Bio: Wil Del Pilar
Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D.

Vice President for Higher Education Policy & Practice, The Education Trust

BIO: Natasha Jankowshi SSHE2021
Natasha Jankowski, Ph.D.

Higher Education & Assessment Consultant Assessment Expert, Former Executive Director, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA)

BIO: D-L Stewart SSHE2021
D-L Stewart, Ph.D.

Professor, Colorado State University, Radical Insights Speaking, Consulting, and Training, LLC

BIO: Laura Rendon SSHE2021
Laura I. Rendón, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita, University of Texas at San Antonio, Student Advocate, Speaker, Writer, Consultant

Featured Panel

Bio: Kevin Kruger
Kevin Kruger, Ph.D.

President, NASPA

Bio: Richard Gallot SSHE21
Richard Gallot, J.D.

President, Grambling State University

Bio: Ellen Junn SSHE21
Ellen Junn, Ph.D.

President, California State University, Stanislaus

Bio: Russell Lowery-Hard SSHE21
Russell Lowery-Hart, Ph.D.

President, Amarillo College

Bio: Lori White SSHE21
Lori White, Ph.D.

President, DePauw University

Pre-Conference Workshops

Pre-conference workshops are available to conference registrants at an additional cost. A full view of the pre-conference workshops can be viewed here. Please note: You cannot register or attend a pre-conference workshop without registering for one of the conferences.

Full-Day Pre-Conference Workshops (4-hours): These workshps are held prior to the conference and offer participants an in-depth study and learning experience. Pre-conference workshops will require participants to register for a fee.
Half-Day Pre-Conference Workshops (2-hours): These workshps are held at the beginning of the conference and are designed as highly-specialized opportunities to discuss a specific topic or program. Pre-conference workshops will require participants to register for a fee.

View the workshop descriptions below to learn more! Any questions regarding the workshops, please email us at

  • Re-engaging First-gen Graduate Students: Developing a Post-pandemic Campus Plan

    Saturday, June 26, 2021 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST

    This interactive workshop will guide audience members through several large and small group discussions and activities in order to explore potential opportunities for re-engaging their first-generation student population as part of post-pandemic campus planning. Facilitators will guide attendees through a critical reflection of their institutional systems for supporting first-generation graduate students. Attendees will also complete a SWOT analysis to identify opportunities and needs to advocate for change on their campus.

    Presenters: Alece Alderson, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life, University of California, San Francisco; Matt Newlin, Higher Education Consultant

    *Additional registration is required.


  • Partnering with Parents and Families of First-generation College Students

    Saturday, June 26, 2021 from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. EST

    Building a sense of community and belonging is incredibly important for first-generation college students. A key factor to this foundation of support is engaging parents and families of first-generation students; institutions can harness this support by viewing parents and families of first-generation students as partners in their students’ success. Drawing from their experiences at mid-size and large, public, four-year institutions, the presenters will first discuss the challenges of engaging the parents of first-generation students. They will then offer a suggested timeline to consider when developing content for communication and engagement. Finally, the presenters will provide examples of partnering opportunities and events, strengthening connections to the institution and levels of support.

    Presenters: Amy Baldwin, Director and Senior Lecturer of Writing, Literacy, and Academic Success in Student Transitions, University of Central Arkansas; Martina Martin, Associate Director of Student Transitions and Family Programs: First-Generation and Off-Campus Student Services, University of Kentucky; Daphne Rankin, Associate Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, Virginia Commonwealth University;.

    *Additional registration is required.


  • A Dedicated First Scholars and First-gen Forward Pre-Conference Workshop (Invite-Only)

    Sunday, June 27, 2021 from 12:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST

    This workshop will feature perspectives from senior leaders, insight from institutions leading evidence-based, outcomes-driven initiatives, opportunities for topic-based dialogue, and community building with colleagues equally committed to first-generation efforts. At the heart of both First Scholars and First-gen Forward is the opportunity to share and learn across our talented network, and we are excited to provide this joint gathering for dedicated conversation. For those registering for the conference, First Scholars and First-gen Forward institutions will also have access to networking opportunities.

    Additional registration is required but there is no fee for invited institutions.


  • Approaches to Assessing First-Generation College Student Success

    Sunday, June 27, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. EST

    Assessment is one of the most critical features of developing and sustaining successful first-generation programs and initiatives. Identifying first-generation college students and their needs as well as documenting and highlighting effective practice is the key to continued institutional support and program sustainability. This session will explore the role of assessment in evaluating first-generation student needs, interaction with programs and services, and learning outcomes. It will also outline a model to organize these assessment activities and discuss strategies for conducting meaningful assessment of both student development and programmatic effectiveness. Session participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the assessment climate on their own campuses and share successful techniques and methods from their own experience.

    Presenters: Jennifer R. Keup, Director, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina; Sarah E. Whitley, Assistant Vice President, Center for First-generation Student Success, NASPA

    *Additional registration is required.



One registration grants access to conference speakers, sessions, and special features from all three conferences!
When registering, please select the conference that best aligns with your interests.

Conference Registration Fees

Early Registration
January 20 - April 30, 2021
Regular Registration
May 1 - May 28, 2021
Late Registration
May 29 - June 25, 2021
NASPA Member
NASPA Member
NASPA Member
NASPA Non-member
NASPA Non-member
NASPA Non-member
NASPA Student Member
NASPA Student Member
NASPA Student Member

Pre-Conference Fees

Half-day (2-hours)
Member and Non-Member Price
Full-day (4-hours)
Member and Non-Member Price


Registration is based on individual membership status. If you are employed by a college or university that is an institutional member, you can join NASPA as an individual member at a reduced rate of $75. By becoming a NASPA member and securing the member registration rate, you save $35 compared to registering at the non-Member registration rate.

If your institution is NOT a member, you will need to join at the associate affiliate rate of $242 and then register at the individual member rate for conference registration. Visit the membership section of the NASPA website to learn about membership types.

Registration Policy

Be sure to carefully review the registration policy information below.

  • Payment

    Please note that there is no "Bill Me" option in the registration. The online registration system will accept the following credit cards for payment:

    • Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express

    Changes in payment method or credit card after the initial payment is processed are NOT permitted. Please be sure that you are using the appropriate credit card for this transaction.

    It is preferred that registration be paid by credit card. If this is not possible for you because of your institutional policies, please email to request an invoice for check payments.

    Please note, all registrations needing to be paid by check must be submitted by June 1, 2021. All check payments must then be received within 30 days or your order will be canceled.

  • Substitutions

    Substitutions are allowed by individuals within the same institution/company. Substitutions should have the same member classification so that the payment is an even exchange transfer of payment. Additional charges may apply if the membership status is not the same. Please email your request for the substitute attendee to

  • Refund

    Registration Cancellation Policy: Cancellation/refund deadline less a $50.00 administrative fee is May 7, 2021. This program may be canceled or postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. In this case, fees will be refunded; however, NASPA will not be responsible for additional costs, charges, or expenses, including cancellation/change charges assessed by airlines, hotels, and/or travel agencies. NASPA is not responsible for weather or travel-related problems and will not reimburse registration fees for these issues. Please click here to submit a refund request. Refunds will not be processed after May 7, 2021 for any reason.

    Individual NASPA memberships are non-refundable and non-transferable.

    Please allow 30 business days for processing. To inquire about the status of a refund after 10 business days, please send an email to

    Click here to view NASPA’s complete Payment Policies and Procedures.

    Additional Membership Questions? Please contact the NASPA office at 202-265-7500 or via e-mail to

NASPA Foundation Professional Development Access Scholarships

The NASPA Foundation, in partnership with NASPA, is excited to share a new scholarship opportunities designed to keep NASPA members connected to the field and the Association during the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Donor gifts have allowed for scholarships to directly support NASPA membership as well as conference registrations for select NASPA workshops.

These access scholarships will fund a conference registration up to the regular member registration rate for the events listed below. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis in the order in which they are received. Applicants will be contacted within two weeks of their submission and scholarship will remain available until funding is expended.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Scholarships are open for any NASPA member in need with preference given to individuals recently furloughed, partially furloughed, laid-off, and/or recently graduated without employment.
  • Registration will cover up to the regular registration rate for members.
Learn More

Future Locations

The 2021 First-generation Student Success Conference will be a virtual conference. More information will soon be shared about the virtual conference platform. View the future conference venues below: