Today@Sam Article

SHSU Celebrates Second Annual First-Gen Week

Nov. 20, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins

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All eight of Sam Houston State University’s colleges and its First-Generation Center celebrated the second annual First-Generation Week, an expansion on the national day that honors students, faculty and staff who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year, undergraduate degree. With over 50 percent of SHSU’s population identifying as such, the university and center continue to establish themselves as first-generation trailblazers.

“Sam Houston State is always ambitious,” said the center’s Assistant Director Jaime Peña when asked why the university celebrates for an entire week opposed to one day. “Being that jump starter shows external stakeholders that we are enthusiastic about this and that first-generation students should not just be celebrated for one day.”

SHSU has always boasted a large population of first-generation students, faculty and staff have been on the frontlines of recognizing and elevating these individuals’ unique experiences in higher education since the center’s inception in June of 2022. For the second straight year, each college within the university held events to celebrate throughout Nov. 6-17.

“The growth in this year’s events from last year’s is pretty drastic,” Peña said. “Having all eight colleges to again agree with open arms was fascinating and helping them build upon their individual reputations and programs was fantastic.”

While each of the events were unique, most offered free food, first-generation merchandise and opportunities to network.

“It’s inspiring to see students come out, learn what it means to be first-gen and understand they are not alone,” Peña said. “A lot of the events helped build their professional network and talk to fellow students in order to encourage and support one another. They offered a chance to build community, find fellowship, laugh and share stories.”

Peña also feels the festivities come at the perfect time with students gearing up for the holidays and finals just around the corner.

“I think we are alleviating the academic stresses students might feel in the month of November and that final push of the semester, especially in first-gen students who may be feeling that imposter syndrome kicking in more than before, or whatever mental health situations they may be going through,” Peña said. “The timeline worked out perfectly. In these hardships, it can be difficult to find community. But I think that’s why we celebrate first-gen students: to show them and their supporters that we want to cultivate this community of friendship, family and overall excellence.”

Click here for more information on SHSU’s First-Generation Center and its National First-Generation Week celebration.

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