The Nation Celebrates First-Gen on November 8th

On November 8th, the Council for Opportunity in Education Board (COE), in partnership with Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA ) and other higher education organizations and programs across the country are joining forces to celebrate the 52nd Anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

The concept of “first-generation” students was introduced into federal policy by the TRIO community in 1980, during passage of the Higher Education Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) are federal outreach and student services programs in the United States designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

UCI has it’s own TRIO program with staff who are committed to providing initiatives and opportunities that validates each student’s unique experience and nurtures both students’ sense of belonging and their vision of hope. Through academic workshops, one-on-one and group advising, tutoring, and referrals to campus resources, they strive to inform and motivate students through graduation and beyond, with an eye towards a first job or admission into graduate or professional school.

“The TRIO Scholars program is proud to celebrate this national effort to recognized and bring visibility to first generation students on campus,” says Joanna Hernandez,

TRIO Project Director. “We celebrate and support these students throughout their educational journey here at UCI and beyond.”


“Celebrating our First Gen Students is a top priority,” says Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education at UCI. “I am really excited to gather our First Gen community to join me and Peter T. Anteater as we make a symbolic walk around Ring Road to celebrate the anniversary of the amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965.”

UCI is excited to join the nation in celebration, and will be participating in the following ways:

  • Encouraging First Gen students Faculty, and Staff to wear their First Gen T-Shirts and meet at the flagpole at 12:15pm, to join a walk around Ring Road
  • First Gen Ring Road Loop will include special guests  Peter T Anteater and Vice Provost Michael Dennin
  • Free T-Shirts will be passed out to First Gen students at the SSI boothing location
  • There will be a Selfie Station Photo Booth in front of Student Services I and II
  • Other First Gen Booth presence by – Student Success Initiatives, Chi Alpha Epsilon- 1st Gen Honor Society, Project Trio
  • Free First Gen college Student Buttons will be passed out during Ring Road walk and at booths
  • There will be a Facebook Live broadcast during the Ring Road loop – FB link: https://www.facebook.com/UCIStudentSuccessInitiatives/
  • There will be an Instagram Story shared during the Ring Road loop – IG link:
  • Throughout the day, teams will monitor and share using the following hashtags  #celebratefirstgen, #FirstGenUCI #IamFirst

“The importance of First Gen students seeing First Gen faculty and staff on campus is key to making them feel that they belong at UCI as much as anyone else,” says Dr. Pavan Kadandale, Assistant Director for the First Gen Faculty Initiative. “First generation status, unlike gender or ethnicity, is not visually obvious. Seeing First Gen students, faculty and staff walking together around Ring Road will create an incredible visual of the sheer number of First Gen representation on campus.”

Celebrating First Gen students is nothing new to UCI. More than half of UCI’s current student body are first-generation students, and in Fall of 2014, UCI professor Anita Casavantes Bradford sparked an idea to start a faculty-led initiative to celebrate the courage and ambition of first-gen students and to support them in successfully overcoming economic, social and cultural challenges to their pursuit of a higher education.

The First Generation Faculty initiative, encouraged instructors, students and staff on campus to identify themselves via t-shirts, buttons and other means as the first in their families to attend college.

This program not only helps new students feel like they belong to and are supported by a larger community, but it also gives graduate-level first generation students, faculty, and staff an opportunity for recognition as the first in their family to attend college.

With remarkable success during the first two years, all UC schools have now chosen to implement the First-Gen Faculty Initiative for Fall quarter of 2017.  


Come join us on November 8th at 12:15pm at the UCI flag pole and join us as we walk around ring road to celebrate First Gen students.

Learn more about resources for First Gen students at firstgen.due.uci.edu