The University of New Mexico’s University Advisement is participating in the national event of “First Generation Student Success,” on Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 12 to 1 p.m. on the second floor of the University Advisement and Enrichment Center (UAEC).
The event is designed to focuses on celebrating the presence and experience of first-generation college students, faculty and staff on campus. UNM officials plan use the event as an awareness tool for first-generation students. UNM defines first-generation as someone who’s neither parent/guardian has received a bachelor’s degree.
“One goal of the event is to have UNM Staff that were first gen students self-identify so that they may serve as role models,” said Laura Valdez, director, Office of University Advisement. “Some students feel a negative stigma at being first gen so seeing staff as being prideful should reduce that stigma.”
UNM tracks its first-generation students through its Student Support Services TRIO (SSS) program, which is a federally funded grant program. The program has been at UNM in its current scope since 2001. There are also SSS programs at UNM branches including Gallup and Taos.
“I was fortunate to establish the SSS program at UNM in 2001 and have been directing the program ever since,” said Dawn Blue Sky-Hill, director, Student Support Services-TRIO. “I am currently the president of TRIO New Mexico and make every attempt to keep the TRIO NM membership and UNM TRIO informed of national initiatives such as celebrating first-generation students.”
The SSS target population is first-generation, low-income and students with disabilities; two-thirds of SSS students have to be both first-generation and low-income. Eighty-eight percent of the group of 160 are both first-gen and low-income and 64 percent of students graduated in six years, from a 2015-16 report.
Nationally, the Council and NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education will bring together Members of Congress, first-generation college students and graduates, advocates, and supporters to take part in the First-Generation College Celebration — the 52nd Anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Free cake and a photo booth will be provided. Photos taken at the event and posted are requested to have #unmiamfirst and #celebratefirstgen in the description.