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University Celebrates First-Gen Students

University Celebrates First-Gen Students
Students gather at the National First-Generation College Celebration in The DeNaples Center on Nov. 8.

The University joined the National First-Generation College Celebration with an event on campus Nov. 8 to recognize the University’s first-generation students, faculty, staff and alumni. The celebration was organized by the University’s THR1VE Program, which launched in July 2019 to celebrate and support Scranton students whose parents have not completed a four-year college degree. THR1VE is housed in the University’s Center for Student Engagement and is supported by a Strategic Initiatives Fund grant. At the University, 23 percent of the undergraduate population identifies as first-generation.

According to Robert McGowan, coordinator of the THR1VE program, many first-generation students expressed similar concerns about their college experience, namely, “What am I studying? What am I going to do with it after I graduate? And how am I going to pay for it?”

Based on this information, the THR1VE program focuses on three primary areas of support: financial wellness, academic planning and career development. Sessions include workshops on budgeting and financial planning, student loans and consumer debt, and savings and investment, as well as programming focusing on developing study skills. In addition to the special programming, THR1VE will assist first-generation students in navigating the vast array of resources available to them at the University.

“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,” University President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., wrote in a letter to the University community about the celebration. “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. For the past two years, institutions from across the nation have organized their own celebrations in support of their first-generation students.

This marks the first year that the University has participated in the National First-Generation College Celebration.

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