Penn State to recognize National First-Generation College Celebration

November 02, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the first time ever, Penn State will join colleges and universities across the nation in recognizing National First-Generation College Celebration with a week of virtual festivities beginning Tuesday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Nov. 8. All members of the Penn State community, especially first-generation college students (individuals whose parents did not attend college), are invited to participate.

National First-Generation College Celebration, recognized each year on Nov. 8, was established in 2017 by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-generation Student Success to advance a national narrative on first-generation student experiences and outcomes, particularly the barriers facing this population and the supports necessary for first-generation students to thrive. Nov. 8 marks the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created a range of initiatives to expand access to higher education for low-income and first-generation students.

Penn State’s celebration will be led by the Student Success Center and First Gen Advocates, a student organization that promotes advocacy, awareness and mentorship to support first-generation students at Penn State.

“We look forward to adding the voices of Penn Staters to the important national conversation taking place around first-generation college students and how colleges can best support these trailblazers,” said Denise Poole, director of student success initiatives at Penn State. “Our intention is to make this year’s celebration the first of many in years to come.”

The executive board of First Gen Advocates wrote in a statement, “We are excited and eager to honor First-Generation Celebration Day on November 8 because these students face and overcome a unique set of challenges that other students may not face. We celebrate these students on November 8 and every day through our efforts to support their success at Penn State and beyond.”

The week will feature several events that will shine a light on the experiences of first-generation students at Penn State and across the nation:

Tuesday, Nov. 3 – Share Your First Generation Story  

Beginning Tuesday and throughout the week, stories of first-generation students at Penn State will be shared on the FGA website, FGA’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts and Penn State’s news and social media channels.

If you identify as a first-generation college student and are a current member of the Penn State community or a Penn State alumni, you are invited to participate by sharing your first-generation story or motivational advice for current first-generation Penn Staters. You may submit a quote, brief written story or video through this submission form: To access the form, make sure that you are logged into Google using a Penn State email address.

Thursday, Nov. 5 – National First-Generation College Student Celebration (National Event)

Students are invited to join DJ Faro and your first-generation college student peers and champions from 6 to 7 p.m. for a fun-filled hour of music, trivia and prizes. Hosted by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-generation Student Success, this event is free and open to the public. Click here to register.

Friday, Nov. 6 “We are First-Gen Proud”: A PSU Community Conversation about the First-Generation College Student Experience 

Hosted by the Student Success Center, this panel discussion will feature Penn State students, faculty, administrators and campus leaders who will share their experiences as first-generation college students and offer advice for current and future first-generation students. Join the conversation on what being “first” has meant to various members of our community. Discussion begins at 1 p.m and will take place on Zoom (

Friday, Nov. 6 - Joint Virtual First-Generation College Celebration (national event)

The Center for First-generation Student Success and the Council for Opportunity in Education welcome you to participate in the Joint Virtual First-Generation College Celebration slated from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. Visit the NASPA website to register.

Saturday, Nov. 7 – Trivia Party

First Gen Advocates will host a Trivia Party on Zoom at 1 p.m. Current undergraduates and graduate students from any Penn State campus, including the World Campus, are invited to attend. Attend using the following Zoom link:

(Password: 553676)

Sunday, Nov. 8 First-Generation Celebration Day

The week will culminate in First-Generation Celebration Day. Students are invited to show their Penn State pride on Sunday and throughout the week using the hashtags #WeAreFirstGen (to join the Penn State conversation) and #CelebrateFirstGen (to join the national conversation).

The Student Success Center is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated November 06, 2020