The Student News Site of St. John Fisher University

The Student News Site of St. John Fisher University

The Student News Site of St. John Fisher University

The Student News Site of St. John Fisher University

The Student News Site of St. John Fisher University

The Student News Site of St. John Fisher University

First-Gen Week: Celebrations, Successes and the Representation of First-Generation Students at Fisher

Photo Via Center for First Generation Student Success

On Nov. 8, colleges across the nation celebrate First-Generation Day in recognition of students who are the first in their families to attend college. This day is in honor of the passing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which gave more support to students who may not have gotten a chance to attend college previously. At Fisher, this day is accompanied by a week of talkbacks and celebrations focused on First-Generation students and the success stories of First-Generation adults.

“At its core, it’s a pride week,” said Dr. Marlowe Washington, Fisher’s Senior Diversity Officer. “It’s a week to say, ‘Fisher takes pride in its First-Gen students.’”

The purpose of First-Gen Week goes beyond celebrating students. Fisher holds First-Gen Week to give students the opportunity to see the First-Gen adults who became leaders and learn the steps they took to succeed. 

“It helps them know that they are not alone,” said Gabe Iturbides, Director of TRIO Student Support Services (TRIO SSS) and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). “They can see adults who have been successful.”

“There are many First-Gen students who have chosen Fisher, and many professors and staff who were First-Gens, including our President,” said Emily Colliss, Associate Director of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. “This celebration will help all our First-Gen students know we are excited for them to be on this journey here at Fisher. Being a First-Gen student at Fisher is something to be proud of.”

First-Gen Week goes from Monday, Nov. 6 to Friday, Nov. 9. It will include presentations from Lydia X.Z. Brown and Richard Taylor, as well as a celebration of First-Gen students. This celebration will feature speeches from Fisher First-Gen students and staff, including President Dr. Gerard Rooney and SGA’s First-Gen Senator, Yodit Ghebrezgabiher. 

Fisher faculty hope to continue the celebration and support for First-Gen students beyond the week. “Many First-Gen students struggle to ask for help,” said Iturbides. “Supporting First-Gen students lets them know that Fisher is a safe space.”

“The recognition of First-Gen students answers the question, ‘What does it mean to be a big dreamer?’” said Dr. Washington. “Students learn the skills needed to dream and move forward without fear.” Support for First-Gen students also alleviates anxiety and uncertainty by getting them involved in on-campus events and helping them fit in.

Everyone at Fisher can get involved in First-Gen Week by offering acceptance and support towards First-Gen students. Students can become tutors or peer mentors while faculty members can advocate for students. “Not everyone is used to navigating college campuses,” said Iturbides. “Be the voice for them.”

First-Gen students who are not currently involved in First-Gen events or programs can still reach out for support. Services such as TRIO SSS and CSTEP are available and can be accessed by contacting Gabe Iturbides. 

“All First-Gen students can still get involved, even if they aren’t in the programs on-campus,” said Dr. Washington. “We cannot leave anybody behind.”


First-Gen Week Events

  • Monday, Nov. 6: Presentation by Lydia X.Z. Brown, 5:00 PM in Basil 135.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 7: Annual First-Gen Celebration, 4:45 PM in Mid-Level Gateway (in Basil).
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8: Presentation by Richard Taylor, 5:00 PM in Basil 135.

Thursday, Nov. 9: First-Generation Author Pop-Up, 12:30 PM in Campus Center Atrium; Wear Blue and Yellow shirts.

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