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University Joins National First-Generation Celebration

University Joins National First-Generation Celebration

"Attending the event was a great opportunity to see one another and know that I am not alone on campus." - Ashley Walker ‘21 

The University joined the National First-Generation College Celebration to recognize the University’s first-generation students, faculty, staff and alumni on Nov. 8. The event was organized by the University’s THR1VE Program, to celebrate and support Scranton students whose parents have not completed a four-year college degree.

The on-campus celebration included trivia about famous first-gen students and the THR1VE program, interactive booths staffed by members of the THR1VE advisory board, giveaways, self-care tips and tricks for students as they approach final exams and long sleeve “I’M F1RST” T-shirts. There was also a special edition of the THR1VE newsletter, social media campaigns and the launch of GU1DE, the new mentoring program.

Caitlin Gallagher ’21 is a student co-coordinator of THR1VE.

"We wanted to host this event to not only spread awareness of the program but to celebrate all of our first-gen students," she said. "It was such a great opportunity to get together in person to celebrate one another."

Ashley Walker ‘21 also took part in the event.

"Attending the event was a great opportunity to see one another and know that I am not alone on campus," she said.

In a letter to the campus community, University President Scott R. Pilarz, S. J., noted how being the first in a family to graduate college can impact not only a student but their entire community.

“As the first member of the Pilarz family to graduate from college, I know firsthand the ways that graduation can be particularly life-changing for students, their families and future generations.”

Fr. Pilarz also noted the strong commitment of educating first-generation students at the University where they make up 22 percent of the undergraduate student body.  

“Since our founding as St. Thomas College, educating and forming those who are the first in their families to earn a college degree has been and will continue to be a special part of our mission.”

The National First-Generation College Celebration was established in 2017 to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which helped students from minority and low-income backgrounds access higher education. For the past three years, institutions from across the nation have organized their own celebrations in support of their first-generation students.

The THR1VE program, launched in July 2019, is designed to celebrate and support first-generation college students throughout their time at the University. The primary goal of THR1VE is to identify and build resources that would assist first-gen Scranton students.

"The THR1VE program is a valuable community for first-generation students to come together to meet one another, learn more about campus resources and celebrate our shared success," said Jeffrey Colucci ‘21. 

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