The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has adopted the formal definition of a first-generation college student as a student in which neither parent or legal guardian has completed a four-year college degree or higher. The first-generation definition is quite broad and it does not explicitly account for the rich diversity present among the first-generation student population. First-generation students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville come from various socio-economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, but they all have a few things in common. Our first-generation scholars are trailblazers and highly motivated individuals who are on their way to achieving academic, personal, and professional success.
What is the Purpose of the First-Generation Initiative?
- To connect first-generation scholars to campus resources, organizations, departments, and professionals in order to foster both personal and professional connections.
- To provide a sense of community, belonging, and support for first-generation students through intentional programming and collaborations.
- To identify, acknowledge, and celebrate a shared identity and cultivate shared experiences among first-generation students.
The First-Generation Initiative creates intentional opportunities for academic, career, social, and cultural engagement for first-gen scholars throughout their academic journey. The First-Generation Initiative also provides opportunities to engage and educate families of our first-generation scholars and the campus community as a means of better supporting first-generation students as they progress through the university. First-Generation Initiative accomplishes this through intentional engagement through the following four pillars: Academic and Career, Social and Cultural, Family, and Campus Advocacy.
First-Gen Forward Institution
In May of 2019,the University of Tennessee was among a select group of institutions recognized by the Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA, as an inaugural First-Gen Forward Institution. The First-Gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students.
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Academic and Career Engagement
- Provide scholars access to important information, student success resources, and professional development opportunities.
- Support scholars in their academic success exploration, enhancement of strengths, and development of career readiness competencies.
Social and Cultural Engagement
- Provide scholars with opportunities to engage in community building, peer and professional networking, and cultural acknowledgements and celebrations.
- Exposure to activities and events that increase social and cultural capital and sense of belonging.
- Provide families of first-generation students opportunities to learn about campus culture and the higher education experience.
- Guide first-generation families in effectively supporting their student scholars during their matriculation at the institution.
Campus Advocacy and Engagement
- Provide the campus community with resources, data, professional development, and best practices for engaging and supporting first-generation scholars.
- Increase awareness, support, and advocacy for first-generation college students by faculty, staff, and administrators.