Celebrating the success of first-generation college students is important in the advancement of their higher education experience. With this in mind, UNM celebrates the accomplishments of its first-generation Lobos at the 4th Annual First Gen Proud Celebration Nov. 9 – 19.

The Council for Opportunity for Education (COE), in partnership with the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, recently announced the continuation of the First-Generation College Celebration. Nov. 8 marks the 55th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Higher Education Act (HEA), which has helped millions of first-generation, low-income/under-resourced students persist to degree completion.

The definition of first-generation varies across institutions and programs. Brittany Tabor, director for the UNM-Gallup TRiO Upward Bound program serves on the First Gen Proud Committee said. UNM defines first generation as “students and their siblings that lived in a household where neither parent received a four-year bachelor’s degree.”  

First Gen Celebration logo

As part of the Celebration on Nov. 8, college campuses around the nation will celebrate rallies, panel discussions, listening sessions, and more in recognition of their first-generation students. Across social platforms, institutions can use #CelebrateFirstGen to share their events and join in conversations with colleagues and students. With the 2020 national celebration falling on a Sunday, this presents an excellent opportunity to consider partnerships with Parents and Family Offices, and engage in a weeklong celebration beginning with a kick-off event on Sunday and carrying through Veterans Day; another collaboration opportunity – Student Veterans Services.

Dawn Blue Sky-Hill, chair of the First Gen Proud Committee and Student Support Services – TRIO director said, “I am delighted to join the 2020 national commemoration to celebrate the term first-generation as first written in the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA). It's important to know the 1965 document articulated the need to uplift first-generation students, low-income to middle-class students, and other students from disadvantaged backgrounds with access to higher education. For me, the First-Generation Celebration symbolizes a continuum of shared experiences and successes by collegiate students, staff, and faculty alike, and celebrating the term first-generation unifies campuses nationwide.”

Several initiatives include a speaker series, a letter-writing campaign, and more.  Visit firstgen.unm.edu for a full schedule of activities that are available to the branch and Albuquerque campus communities. 

UNM First Gen activities


The Center for First-Generation Student Success and Council for Opportunity in Education are offering a joint virtual First-Generation College Celebration on Nov. 6, Noon - 1:30 p.m. (MT).  Registration is Free. To sign up, visit https://naspa.org/events/joint-virtual-first-generation-college-celebration

Speaker Series

Mercy Marrujo, a community-led and oriented poet, will hold an interactive workshop on “Finding Poetry in First Gen Life,” on Nov. 16, at 2 – 3 p.m. Join in with Zoom ID 93084523789  

Kyle Ethelbah, director of Federal TRIO Programs at the University of Utah, shares “A personal experience of a TRIO student and the transformative power of education” on Nov. 17 at 2 – 3 p.m. Join us on Zoom ID 91611621863

Michelle Lee, Student Success manager at UNM-Gallup presents “First Gen-The value of smaller steps” on Nov. 18, at 2 – 3 p.m.  Join us on Zoom ID 95303039434 

Dr. Tim Alvarez, president of Otero Junior College, presents “Hope, Happiness, Happenstance, and Self-Authorship: Guiding First-Generation Students” in a faculty series on Nov. 19, 2 – 3 p.m. Join us on Zoom ID:  92124729509

The speaker series will also be streamed on Facebook @ UNMCEP Nov. 16-19 at 2 p.m.

Letter Writing Campaign
First-generation faculty and staff are asked to share their words of encouragement, support, and/or advice to current first-generation Lobos in a letter.  We will be relaying messages to students, who can request a letter using this link.

Follow this link to submit a letter/message by the priority deadline of Nov. 10.

Kahoot Trivia Night
Who loves a good trivia night? Join in on Nov. 17, at 5 p.m. for a Kahoot trivia night: The First Generation to College Edition! Test your knowledge and/or learn more about the first generation to college experience during this interactive activity. Zoom ID 95038240213

Display being First Gen Proud
Display a Zoom First Gen Proud background the week of Nov. 16.  Wear last year’s t-shirt (if you have one). Take a selfie and share it with us using the hashtag #UNMIAMFIRST.

Visit firstgen.unm.edu for a full list of activities, promotional items, and information.