Texas State named First-gen Forward Institution by NASPA, Suder Foundation

Inside TXST

Jayme Blaschke | March 3, 2020

women with first generation pin on shirt

Texas State University has been named to the 2020-2021 cohort of First-gen Forward Institutions by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the Suder Foundation. 

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. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences and a first look at the center’s research and resources.

Approximately 46% of Texas State students are first-generation. The university celebrated First-Gen Week Nov. 5 -11, during which campus partners hosted several events on campus to promote civic engagement and academic enrichment. 

“Our First-Gen Proud initiative is in its infancy stage, with priorities in providing visibility, support and intentional services,” said Victoria Black, director of Personalized Academic and Career Exploration (PACE) Peer Mentoring. “With a large number and growing population of first-gen students, we are examining how to develop culturally relevant practices to enhance and serve this population. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Higher Education Act on our campus providing equitable opportunities for underrepresented populations.” 

As a First-gen Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First-gen Forward Workshop to be held in Baltimore in June and will participate in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the advisory leadership designation.

“The center is so pleased to welcome Texas State into the 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward institutions,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “Through the application process, it was evident that Texas State is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future.”

To further support first-generation students, Texas State has introduced University Seminar sections that include a tailored first-gen curriculum and engagement activities to meet first-generation student academic and social transition to the university community. The curriculum includes developing a growth mindset and crafting self-discipline. A panel of first-generation professionals will mentor and empower students enrolled in the course.  

Other Texas State initiatives that support first-gen students include:

  • F1rst Bobcat Proud student-run organization meets bi-weekly and provides a community for first-gen students. It also hosts first-gen professionals sharing their experiences on how to be a successful first-gen student and future professional.  
  • Alkek Library has developed a first-gen library guide and area for books/online resources supporting first-gen student success: guides.library.txstate.edu/TXSTFirstGen
  • Several TRIO programs at Texas State support first-gen student success, promoting and encouraging bachelor degree attainment.
  • The Graduate College hosts a “Once a First-Gen, Always a First-Gen” event each semester, promoting graduate and professional education. 

For more information on Texas State first-gen initiatives, visit www.ucollege.txstate.edu/first-gen-proud.

To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.

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For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922