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“First to Geaux” initiative to recognize first-generation students

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will host an awareness campaign for students whose parents either didn’t pursue or didn’t complete a college degree program.

UL Lafayette’s weeklong “First To Geaux” initiative will begin on Monday, Nov. 8, which is National First-Generation Celebration Day. The initiative will end on Friday, Nov. 12.

First To Geaux, which is hosted by the University’s Office for Campus Diversity, is in place to recognize and support the University’s first-generation students.

They will have opportunities to share their stories and aspirations on social media and a chance to gather to network and swap information about campus resources, departments and programs. First-generation students will also be recognized at women’s and men’s basketball games.

Kiwana McClung, the University’s interim chief diversity officer, said first-generation students are more likely to be from lower-income backgrounds, work full-time and “often struggle getting acclimated to college campuses and finding resources.”

“They don’t have parents who can answer questions about higher education or point them in the right direction in terms of finding information and resources. They often feel like they don’t have a support system, so we want to celebrate them and to let them know they aren’t alone. There are other students – and faculty and staff members – who are like them or were once like them.”

First To Geaux will kick off on Monday with a social media campaign, when students will showcase their pride and excitement about being the first members of their families to attend college. First-generation students can share their photos and stories with #First2Geaux.

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, first-generation students are encouraged to attend “First To Geaux Game Night.” Ragin’ Cajuns women’s and men’s basketball teams will both play at the Cajundome. The women’s team will face Texas A&M-Kingsville at 5 p.m.; the men will square off against West Florida at 7:30 p.m. Students can attend the games for free with their University IDs.

The #First2Geaux Twitter Chat will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov.10. First-generation students will have a chance to connect with each other and share their experiences. Faculty and staff members will share theirs, too, and offer support, advice and information. The chat will be hosted by @ULDiversity. Participants should use the hahstag #First2Geaux.

On Friday, Nov. 12, the First To Geaux Dessert Reception will be held from 11 am. to noon on the Student Union Porch. First-generation students can get to know each other while enjoying cookies, cupcakes and brownies.

Learn more about the University's First To Geaux initiative and National First-Generation Celebration Day, which is sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education.

Graphic credit: Tracey Monte / University of Louisiana at Lafayette