University Celebrating First-Generation Gamecocks


by Brett Buckner

They are the fulfillers of dreams, the blazers of trails and a source of family pride. They often bear the weight of great expectations as they navigate a path foreign to their ancestors. They are First-Generation Gamecocks – students who are the first members of their immediate family to attend college. 

The week of Nov. 8, JSU will recognize its current first-generation students, as well as its alumni, faculty and staff who were also the first in their family to attend college, with a series of events celebrating their accomplishments.

“Nearly one-third of our students are first-generation,” said Keaton Glass, director of the First and Second Year Experience. “That’s a very significant population and one that deserves to be recognized for overcoming what’s called ‘high education capital’ – those simple things that students who have had parents in college take for granted.” 

Calendar of Events: 

Nov. 8

The celebration will begin with National Recognition Day, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the TMB Food Court. Enjoy free giveaways, first-generation swag and resources.

Nov. 9

Come hear JSU faculty and staff talk about their own experiences as first-generation students, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Mason Hall, Room 351. Snacks will be provided and, therefore, guests are asked to RSVP for this event. 

Nov. 10

The final event will be Alumni Day, when students can join first-generation alumni Dr. Emily Messer and Brett Johnson for dinner, 6-8 p.m., in Leone Cole Auditorium. Hosted by Alumni Relations, dinner will be provided to the first 50 students who register.

“These events will give students the opportunity to meet people who have been where they are and have made it,” Glass said.

JSU’s celebration is an extension of a national campaign that acknowledges Nov. 8 as the First-Generation College Celebration. Established by the Center for First-Generation Student Success, the date was selected to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965. JSU first hosted a small celebration recognizing the holiday in 2019 but, due to COVID-19, plans to grow the celebration were hindered in 2020. 

“This year, everything really came together,” Glass said. “This will be the type of celebration our first-gen students deserve.”

Visit First-Generation Celebration for more information.