UE Recognizes the 4th Annual First-Generation College Celebration

Posted: Monday, November 8, 2021

On Monday, November 8, 2021, the University of Evansville will join colleges and universities across the nation in recognizing the fourth-annual First-Generation College Celebration. The awareness day was created in 2017 by the Council for Opportunity for Education (COE) and Center for First-Generation Student Success. The date also coincides with the anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Higher Education Act, which has helped millions of low-income, first-generation students earn college degrees.  

Since its founding 167 years ago, UE has strived to create an atmosphere for success as well as a home away from home for first-generation, or "first-gen", college students. This particular group of students may have faced challenges in the college search, balancing academic coursework, and navigating everyday life in higher education. With personal constant support from faculty and staff, as well as various initiatives instituted by the University, students can successfully earn a college degree and develop lasting skills and talents for the future. For the 2021-22 academic year, approximately 14 percent of UE's full-time undergraduates are first-gen. Of the full-time faculty, staff, and administration, more than 30 individuals are also first-gen. 

At UE, all first-generation college students are encouraged to take a special course designed for them. The class covers a variety of beneficial topics, including career and major exploration, time management, study skills, stress management, and financial aid opportunities. A Student Success Lab is also available, which provides access to supplemental instruction, academic coaches, library services, and more. 

In the spring semester, several students came together to form an organization for their first-gen peers. Ace Scholars, as it was named, formed an executive board that meets weekly to plan and strategize methods of fostering success and extra support. Together, the group meets on an as-needed basis and hopes to see growth in the coming semesters. 

“Looking ahead, we would like to create a mentoring program for Ace Scholars,” said Ty Meadors, president of the organization and biology/pre-medicine senior. “Current students would be paired with an incoming first-gen student, and from the beginning of their freshman year they will have someone to go to for extra support.” 

Chad Hart, manager of retention at UE, serves as the advisor for Ace Scholars. He is excited about helping the organization grow, and he wants to create a safe place for asking questions and feeling understood.  

“Being a first-generation student myself and working in higher education, I always find myself saying, ‘I wish I would’ve known that when I was in college,’” Chad said. “I’m really inspired by what I am learning from the students and the impact they have had on me.” 

You can read several success stories from first-generation students and employees at UE by visiting evansville.edu/first-gen.

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