UNM-Gallup to commemorate First-Generation College Celebration Day

UNM-Gallup to commemorate First-Generation College Celebration Day

Categories: Students   Faculty   Staff   Community  

By Richard Reyes | Friday, Nov. 4,2022

Local students, staff and faculty to gather on campus Nov. 8 to show their first-gen pride

GALLUP, N.M. ― The University of New Mexico-Gallup will celebrate First-Generation College Celebration Day by giving out free T-shirts to first-gen students, staff and faculty and then taking a group photo so everyone can show off their first-gen pride Nov. 8, 2022.

First-Generation College Celebration Day honors the success of students, faculty, staff and alumni whose parents did not complete a four-year college or university degree.

UNM-Gallup serves a large population of first-gen students. Kimimila Simms, the program director for TRIO/Student Support Services at UNM-Gallup, estimated that 60-70% of students on campus are first-generation college students.

“It is important to celebrate our first-generation students because it is vital to acknowledge and support students to bridge that opportunity gap and create equity for students to obtain a college degree,” Simms said.

She also said many resources are available for first-gen students on campus. She said TRIO programs such as Upward Bound and Student Support Services provide intentional and meaningful assistance in college guidance.

She added that the Academic Affairs team such as the Financial Aid Office, academic advisors who are student success specialists, the Zollinger Library and the Center for Academic Learning provide key support to first-generation students as well.

“UNM-G has a great mentorship relationship with the students since many of our staff and some faculty are first-generation college graduates that can provide firsthand knowledge and experience in navigating college,” Simms said. “Anywhere you look on our campus, there are professionals who are readily available to provide guidance and support.”

UNM-Gallup plans to commemorate First-Generation College Celebration Day this year with a booth and a group photo opportunity of all first-gen students, staff and faculty on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to register ahead of time to receive a free T-shirt. You can register for a shirt at this link: https://forms.unm.edu/forms/firstgenproud#chat-section

Participants can then pick up their T-shirt from the TRIO/Student Support Services office in Gurley Hall 1139 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. Participants are then encouraged to wear their T-shirt on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and meet at 2:30 p.m. in front of the UNM sign in front of the Student Services and Technology Center to take a group photo.

This year’s First-Generation College Celebration Day comes on the heels of news that The University of New Mexico was declared a First-generation Forward Institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success. The designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students.

“At UNM, we pride ourselves on encouraging a culture of contrast,” UNM Provost James Holloway said back in March. “First-gen students are pivotal to helping achieve this because of the perspective they bring to our campus – one of resilience, tenacity and determination. This First-generation forward designation reflects our campus community’s dedication to the success of first-gen students through on-campus programs and resources.”

In 2017, the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-generation Student Success launched the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration. The two organizations now partner to celebrate the event annually.

“On November 8, we encourage colleges, universities, corporations, non-profits, and K-12 schools to celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, staff and alumni in any and every way possible,” the center website states.

The Center for First-gen Student Success is an initiative of NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and the Suder Foundation. The center improves First-gen initiatives cross higher education by offering an outlet to share research, media conversations, and opportunities for engagement.

For more information about UNM-Gallup’s first-gen celebration, contact Kimimila Simms at ksimms@unm.edu.

For more information about the UNM First Gen Proud program, please visit firstgen.unm.edu

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