Oglethorpe celebrates first-generation college students

Oglethorpe University recently held a campus-wide celebration of first-generation students to give special recognition to the courage and diligence of those who have undertaken the journey to be the first person in their family to attend college.

Oglethorpe University is one of 50 institutions nationwide — and one of only two in Georgia — to receive the First Generation College Celebration Grant from the Center for First-Generation Student Success. This annual grant is awarded to colleges and universities to fund programming that will recognize, uplift and honor first-generation students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Four Oglethorpe students smile at the First-Generation College CelebrationOver 40% of Oglethorpe’s students are first-generation. Without being able to rely on family members’ experience, some first-gen students can feel more anxiety and stress than their peers. As a small college community where many staff, faculty and alumni are also first-generation graduates, Oglethorpe can help these students feel supported as they pursue their academic goals.

The celebration featured free giveaways — including first-gen t-shirts and buttons — an address from Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Laura Renée Chandler and Professor of Biology Dr. Karen Schmeichel, and a screening of a video (below) highlighting OU’s first-gen students, faculty, staff and alumni.

A first-generation college graduate herself, Dr. Chandler shared how she navigated higher education and expressed Oglethorpe’s commitment to supporting students throughout their own journeys.

Dr. Laura Renee Chandler speaks at the First Generation College Celebration

Dr. Laura Renée Chandler delivers an opening address.

“Lean in to the support that you have here at Oglethorpe,” Dr. Chandler encouraged. “You’re surrounded by a community of staff and faculty and students and alumni and other supporters who are deeply invested in your success and want to do all they can to ensure that you thrive during your time at Oglethorpe and beyond.”

Dr. Schmeichel discussed the recent Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant, which supports institutions like Oglethorpe that are dedicated to improving opportunities to all college students, regardless of background.

Watch the First-Generation Celebration video below.

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