Shippensburg University will highlight the accomplishments of first-generation students, alumni, faculty, and staff with a week-long celebration beginning on Sunday, November 1, and concluding on National First-Generation College Celebration Day, Sunday, November 8.

Every day, an event will be held to recognize and elevate the incredible feats of Ship men and women who set out to forge their own college legacy. Virtual events will include a book breakdown surrounding first-generation student support with author and PA Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Khalid Mumin ’98, student and administration panels, a cookie bake-off fundraiser, and a virtual auction. In addition, a painting activity and giveaways will be available for students on-campus. Check out all the events and contest details here. 

According to the National Center for First-Generation Student Success, “November 8 was selected as the date for the annual National First-Generation College Celebration to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965… In addition to creating federal grants and loan programs to help students finance their educations, the legislation made key investments in institutions of higher education.”

Sophomore psychology major, Jessica Blick, entered Ship as a first-generation student from Abington Senior High School. She noted her difficulties adjusting her first year stating, “If I had to name my biggest struggle during my first year on campus as a first-generation student it would be figuring out and taking advantage of just how many resources are available to help you with almost anything you need”.

Support of students whose parent(s) and/or guardian(s) do not have a bachelor’s degree is critical according to data from The Postsecondary National Policy Institute which indicates that in the U.S., “Only 11% of low-income, first-generation college students will have a college degree within six years of enrolling in school, compared to about 55% of their more advantaged peers”.

Shippensburg University is working towards changing these demographics with The Office for Students First, which leads first-generation college celebrations, and provides support, education, and advocacy for students.

Blick continued, “It’s easy to hear or read about everything campus has to offer, but I think it’s really important to go actually use those resources and figure out what is and isn’t helpful for you. I had heard vague things about the Office for Students First and FGSA, but it wasn’t until I actually went and found out what it was all about for myself that I realized all the benefits they offered…The Office of Students First has supported me beyond words through my college experience.”

Blick indicated that the connection and support from the staff at Ship have been poignant. “If it wasn’t for my Student Success Coach, Doug Dieuveuil, I don’t think I would be where I am now. He’s been so incredibly supportive since my first semester helping me with everything from adjusting to the college schedule and balancing commitments, building confidence in my abilities, and figuring out exactly what I want to do in life. I’m very grateful for that and the entire first-generation program for helping me reach my full potential and achieve so much here at Ship.”

In addition to support from the staff at The Office for Students First, The Learning Center, MSA, and many other student resources, Shippensburg University offers a virtual networking platform, Ship Connects, which allows first-generation students, faculty, staff, and alumni to connect and share resources.

Are you involved with a group that would like to celebrate the success of your first-generation students? Are you a first-generation college graduate that would be willing to share your story of success? Email Rochelle Plummer at [email protected] to get involved or include your event in Ship’s week-long celebration! Check out all the events and contest details here.