Carolina F1RSTS and Carolina Grad Student F1RSTS participate in national First-Generation College Celebration
“Can I be cheesy for a second? I’m the culmination of my mother’s dreams. I am!” A combination of undergraduate and graduate students laughed and cheered on the proud remarks of Daniela Rodríguez, a first-year undergraduate. Pride, laughter and admiration recurred as first-generation students campus-wide shared, on a white board and in conversations with each other, what being first-gen means to them. The recent event, held in the Pit, was UNC-Chapel Hill’s participation in a national initiative celebrating first-generation college students.
Carolina Grad Student F1RSTS (CGSF), an initiative of The Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success program, provides first-generation graduate students from UNC-Chapel Hill with a community focused on their personal and academic success. CGSF collaborated with the undergraduate first-gen initiative Carolina F1RSTS, which supports undergraduate retention initiatives and provides other student support. UNC-Chapel Hill was among colleges and universities nationwide that participated in the First-Generation College Celebration on Nov. 8.
“As someone who was both a first-generation undergraduate and graduate student, participating in the national First-Generation College Celebration is especially meaningful to me,” says Maria Dykema Erb, co-director of The Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success. “I want all first-generation college and graduate students to be proud that they are the first in their family to achieve these milestones and are leading the way for those coming up behind them.”
Carmen Huerta-Bapat, director of Carolina F1RSTS, says she is happy to provide a platform for first-gen students to learn about each other’s experiences. “It’s really important to continue to collaborate between undergraduate and graduate students because it continues to grow the dynamic visibility that is needed to demonstrate that first-gen students are resilient, smart and work hard to get things done in the future.”