February 27, 2024

UT celebrates first generation students

The University of Tennessee celebrates First-Gen students throughout the week. Students are recognized for their pursuit of a higher education with many events on campus.

Throughout the week of Nov. 5 to Nov. 8, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is celebrating first-generation students.

The hashtag #CelebrateFirstGenWeek is used to recognize students that are furthering their education to pursue their dreams.

“I’ve always wanted to go to college but it was difficult because parents and brother didn’t go.” Meghan Shenqell, a first-gen UT student, said. 

A first-gen college student is a student whose parents or legal guardian didn’t attend college.

30% of all entering freshmen are considered first-generation college students, as they are the first in their families to attend college, according to the First Generation Foundation

UT hosted an event on Nov. 6 which gave students the opportunity to meet other first-gen students like themselves. At noon, the event invited students to paint the Rock and enjoy lunch with friends. They left their imprint on the Rock by painting their handprints celebrating their accomplishments.

“I’ve always wanted to come to college, I loved learning, but my mom never finished college because of me,” Kaitlyn Mars, a first-gen student, said. 

First-gen students took a group picture in front of the Rock with their free t-shirts. Students also received free hats and stickers, along with other items for free.  

Departments involved in the event were Multicultural Student Life, Student Success Center and the Office of Diversity and Engagement. The volunteers running the event helped students paint the rock. They also provided information to students as they served them food. 

“We advertised the whole month and sent out flyers,” Laneisha Toney, who helped run and plan the event, said. “The goal of this event is to recognize first-gen students and connect them to other first-gen Students creating a life long friendship.”

Edited by Maddie Torres and Grace Goodacre

Featured image courtesy of Cristina Masciarelli 

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