The annual observance, which celebrates, empowers and engages the first-generation Red Raider community, begins Sunday (Nov. 8) with a national celebration.
On Sunday (Nov. 8), colleges and universities across the U.S. will observe National First-Generation College Celebration day. The event has been held annually since its launch in 2017 by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success, the latter of which is an initiative of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) and The Suder Foundation. The day is a celebration of the success of first-generation college students, faculty and staff. First-generation students are those whose parents have not received a bachelor's degree.
At Texas Tech University, First-Generation Transition & Mentoring Programs (FGTMP) will launch the university's First-Gen Week celebration with a kick-off event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday (Nov. 9) in the Student Union Building North Plaza. The event is free and open to the public. Masks or facial coverings are required and social distancing will be enforced to maintain COVID-19 safety precautions.
The event is the first of several scheduled for the week, said coordinator Shruti Nelson, planned in coordination with campus partners from Undergraduate Admissions, the Graduate School, University Student Housing, the School of Law, Texas Tech Recreational Sports, Student Affairs, Raider Education Department, College Connect, TRIO Student Support Services and the McNair Scholars Program, in addition to individuals from TTU at Waco campus and Lubbock Independent School District.
"The planning team met and discussed various ideas that focused on centering the first-generation student identity and experience, building community, sharing campus resources with first-generation students, highlighting minoritized and marginalized voices within the first-generation community and offering self-care activities," said Nelson, assistant director of FGTMP and the Dream Resource Center in the Diversity, Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. "We were able to partner with NASPA's Center for First-Generation Student Success to request a speaker who has expert insights on first-generation student success topics."
That speaker, Rashné Jehangir, associate professor of higher education and the Robert H. Beck Chair of Ideas in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, will lead the featured session for one of the FGTMP's signature events, the First-Gen Champions Institute. Held virtually on Thursday (Nov. 12), the Champions Institute seeks to bring together individuals who are committed to fostering a space for learning, understanding and intentional serving as it relates to college access, completion and success for first-generation students.
The Champions Institute allows faculty and staff at Texas Tech, along with educators from across the Lubbock community, to share in a discussion on what it truly means to champion first-generation success and how to put those ideas into practice. Jehangir will wrap up the half-day Champions Institute experience with a keynote address, "First-Gen Students: Toward Full Citizenship in Higher Education."
Sessions in the Champions Institute also include a roundtable discussion on the experiences of first-generation students, with panelists from the Texas Tech student body, and an opportunity for attendees to create their "first-generation success toolkit," with breakout sessions for high school/college access and higher education professionals. Texas Tech faculty, staff and graduate students, as well as educators from the Lubbock community, can register for the Champions Institute here.
Additional events held throughout the week will be virtual and focus on the personal, social and academic success and wellness of first-generation students at Texas Tech.
"Students, faculty and staff will gain an understanding of the first-generation stories of students, faculty, staff and alumni at Texas Tech through our student panel, 'First-Gen+ @Tech,' our 'First-Gen Path to Graduate School' panel, and our 'First-Gen Futures: Blazing theTrail' panel," Nelson said. "They will have the opportunity to recharge and engage in self-care through our First-Gen REcharge events, which include yoga, meditation and a 'food fears' cooking demo with Hospitality Services. They also will be able to learn more about resources offered at Texas Tech through our student organization fair, the 'First-Gen Careers' session with the University Career Center and the 'Learning Styles & Study Skills' session with The Learning Center.
"Ultimately, we hope first-generation faculty, staff and students will feel celebrated and empowered by attending these events throughout the week."