Celebrating Success: University of Houston's First-Generation Week 2023 - University of Houston
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DSA News
December 01, 2023

The University of Houston (UH) recently took a momentous stride in acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of its First Generation (FG) College Students during the First-Generation Week, held from November 6th to November 11th, 2023. This week-long event aimed to recognize the significant contributions of FG students, who constitute an impressive 45% of the university's enrolled student body.


UH has always prided itself on acknowledging all students, and the numbers from the Institutional Research Department underscore the university's commitment to providing education to students from a variety of backgrounds. The celebration of First-Generation Week served as a testament to UH's dedication to fostering an environment where every student, regardless of their background, can thrive and succeed. In addition to recognizing current FG students, the university also took the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of its esteemed First-Generation alumni. These individuals, who once navigated the challenges of being the first in their families to attend college, serve as inspiring role models for current students, demonstrating that success is achievable through determination and hard work.

The collaboration between the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) Center for Student Empowerment (CSE) and The Challenger Program housed under the Office of the Provost played pivotal roles in hosting a series of engaging and empowering events throughout the First-Generation Week. The Director of The Challenger program, Monica Floyd said, “It is vital for their success that we emphasize the importance of first-generation students, their pursuit of higher education, and the positive impact that earning a degree holds. At the University of Houston, we consider these students to be pioneers in their families as they embark upon this educational journey that is undoubtedly transformative for their lives and future generations. Initiatives like First Gen Week exemplify the significance of recognizing the First Gen's journey while providing the university with an opportunity to celebrate the persistence and grit these students have as they become the first in their families to earn a bachelor's degree at UH.

To kick off the festivities, UH displayed a celebratory video during the Homecoming game on November 11th, 2023, highlighting the accomplishments and journeys of First-Generation students. This visual tribute not only served to inspire and motivate current students but also showcased the university's commitment to recognizing the unique experiences of its diverse student body.

One standout event, "First of the Hour, Every Hour," took place on November 6th, providing a platform to celebrate the remarkable achievements of FG students. "The First Tabling" event on November 7th was a delightful occasion where FG students were treated to goodies and exclusive merchandise, fostering a sense of belonging and community. This event not only recognized their academic accomplishments but also aimed to make them feel appreciated and valued by the university. "The First Gathering" on November 8th was also a momentous occasion that celebrated and recognized the achievements of FG faculty, staff, and students. It provided a unique opportunity for students to establish sustainable mentorship relationships with faculty and staff who also identify as FG, creating a supportive network that goes beyond academic success. This event aims to create a strong mentorship bond between our amazing First Gen faculty/staff and students. We believe that this connection can make an enormous difference in our students' lives.

Many staff members within the Division of Student Affairs are FG and can relate to our FG students. The Interim Vice President of Student Affairs takes pride in not only our students but also the FG staff. Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Daniel Maxwell said, “I am excited to recognize our staff members who are First Generation students in their families who have earned and or are working on a college degree. I recognize that First-Gen students navigate additional challenges while attending college, let alone if they are working full-time and attending college. I applaud our colleagues' accomplishments and ask that you join me in celebrating their incredible achievements!” To see the full list of First-Generation events held during First-Gen week, click here.

The University of Houston's First-Generation Week 2023 was a resounding success, demonstrating the university's commitment to celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and the achievements of its First-Generation students. Dr. Raven Jones, director of the center for student empowerment stated, “Fostering an environment for success for our First-Generation Students is of utmost importance to us at UH. We are proud to have 45% of our campus body identified as First Gen. First Generation Week is a week-long celebration that highlights their accomplishments and the strides they have made towards earning their degrees. Not only does this event recognize their achievements, but it also helps them create a sustainable support system for their future endeavors. Building a strong network of support leads to student success. First Generation Week provides that platform of success for our students to connect with each other, share their experiences, and build lasting relationships.”

Dr. Monica Thompson, interim associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs and executive director of University Career Services (an FG graduate) looks forward to the celebration of first-generation students becoming a UH tradition and stated, “In the harmonious collaboration between academic affairs and student affairs, a symphony of support resonates across our campus. Within this collective melody of support, the echoes of our first-generation graduate staff's lived experiences serve as a reassuring refrain. Together, we are not just mentors; we are fellow composers of success, dedicated to helping every student navigate the intricacies of higher education and transform challenges into triumphs.”

By providing a platform for recognition, engagement, and mentorship, UH continues to foster an environment where all students can succeed, regardless of their backgrounds. The celebration serves as a reminder that success knows no boundaries and that every achievement is a step towards a brighter future for the entire university community.

Written by Germaine Washington, Director of Marketing & Communications