First Gen Week

Join the University of Minnesota and colleges across the United States as we celebrate the presence and experience of first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on campus! 

In 2017, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the Center for First-generation Student Success launched the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration. The national First-Generation College Celebration Day takes place on November 8, the anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Follow @UMNFirstGenProud on Instagram and Facebook. Tag #UMNFirst and #CelebrateFirstGen.

students with props and #UMNFirst signs
two staff members smiling together in a frame prop that says celebrate first gen
student with prop that says celebrate first gen

Ways to Celebrate First-Gen Week

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Celebrate as an Individual

  • Use positive language to combat the use of deficit language surrounding first-generation college students.
  • Share your first-generation story or listen to the stories of others.
  • Educate yourself about the experiences of first generation college students and the research that relates to their college journey.
  • Facilitate listening sessions by administration, faculty, and staff about first-generation students’ experiences and needs on campus.
  • Wear the U of M First Gen Proud/Supporter button the day of the event.
  • Post a First Gen Proud/Supporter sign on your office door.
  • Connect with other first-gen students, faculty and staff
  • Acknowledge the first-generation students that you interact with and explain why we are celebrating this day (signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965).

Celebrate in the Classroom

  • Incorporate first-generation faculty experiences into classroom discussions.
  • Acknowledge that first-generation students may be in your class and explain why we are celebrating this day (signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965).
  • Host a panel discussion in your class featuring first-generation members of your campus community to discuss their college experiences.
  • Connect with other first-gen faculty and staff in your department or college

Celebrate as a Department/Unit

  • Host a breakfast, luncheon, or snack break for first-generation students to celebrate their success. Invite first-generation leaders, faculty, and staff to attend. 
  • Partner with campus offices, bookstores, local eateries, and gas stations to add gift card raffles to your celebration events.
  • Host a campus event or rally featuring notable first-generation alumni, faculty, staff, students. Empower first-generation student leaders to get involved in planning or to emcee the event.
  • Host panel discussions or forums featuring first-generation members of your campus community to discuss their college experiences.
  • Coordinate a positive language campaign to combat the use of deficit language surrounding first-generation college students.
  • Distribution first-generation swag to promote your celebration events and continued opportunities.
  • Review your communications materials to see how first-generation students are welcomed and their stories highlighted
  • Use the #UMNFirst stories to share on social media
  • Host first-generation alumni networking and career development events.
  • Meet students where they are, literally! Set up stations in commuter student parking areas to offer breakfast-on-the-go or car winterization kits to students just to brighten their day and feel encouraged and encouraged.
  • Designate a campus athletics event as “first-generation” and recognize players, coaches, attendees who are first-generation. Offer a discount to attend.
  • Offer resume and interview workshops to offer tips on how to best frame first-generation status in the hiring process.
  • Send a letter or postcard home to the families of first-generation students to acknowledge the university’s support of their attendance and to highlight successes.
  • Train campus student leaders such as peer mentors, tour guides, and orientation staff on how your campus welcomes first-gen students.

Celebrate as a Student Organization/Group

  • Host a campus event or rally featuring notable first-generation alumni, faculty, staff, students. Empower first-generation student leaders to get involved in planning or to emcee the event.
  • Distribution first-generation swag to promote your celebration events and continued opportunities.
  • Use the #UMNFirst stories to share on social media
  • Ask students in group to share their first gen stories
  • Host first-generation alumni networking and career development events.
  • Host a letter-writing campaign to remind state legislators, boards of trustees and state higher education agencies of the needs of first-generation college students.

Marketing Toolkit

Download and use the First Gen Proud and First Gen Grad branded Zoom backgrounds, social media graphics, printable signs, and logos to show your First Gen pride this week (and all year long)! 

Follow @UMNFirstGenProud on Instagram and Facebook. Tag #UMNFirst and #CelebrateFirstGen.

First Gen Proud Assets