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Celebrating the courage and impact of first-generation students

This Sunday will mark the fourth annual National First-Generation College Celebration, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate our many students, alumni, faculty and staff who are the first in their families to attend college. For every student, pursuing a college degree is filled with challenges and learning experiences. For first-generation students, those challenges can be especially daunting when there’s no parent or older relative to offer experience and guidance. That’s why we take special pride in the achievements of these pioneering students who make up more than a third of UW undergraduates.

While the pandemic makes in-person celebrations impossible right now, we are excited to be hosting events for all three campuses. These include opportunities to hear from first-generation faculty and staff as well as experts who can offer advice and connect first-generation students with support and resources, both academic and non-academic. And I encourage everyone to show your pride and support for first-generation students on social media with #CelebrateFirstGen.

The impact of a student who becomes the first in their family to earn a college degree is felt not just in their lives, but in all the lives they touch, throughout their career, in their contributions to their community, and in the generations that follow in their footsteps. We know that higher education is our surest path to increasing equity, access and opportunity for all people – the dividends of enabling more people to earn degrees are paid to our whole society. All of our first-generation students, faculty, staff and alumni embody that promise, and their hard work and determination to succeed is an inspiration.

To support these extraordinary pathbreakers, our University is committed to continuing to expand access and support degree completion for first-generation students. We are investing in them just as they have committed to investing in themselves and the future we all share.

First-generation Huskies, we salute you!