Celebrating Our First-Generation Students

Photo of first-generation students at UK

Being a pioneer of change has never been an easy task. Being a first-generation student is no exception.

Last week, UK held a First-Generation College Celebration, during which Student Transitions and First Year Programs hosted a myriad of events to honor the journeys of our first-generation students. Events included FIRSTravaganza photo booths, a UK basketball watch party, first-gen conversations focused on intersectionality, and culminated in a chartering and induction ceremony for the Alpha Alpha Alpha Honor Society.

It was a captivating reminder to our community regarding the richness that these students bring to our campus and the experiences they will carry as successful members of society throughout their careers.

It’s also a reminder of the services and opportunities UK offers to provide support to first-generation students in all of their endeavors.

At UK, nearly one in four incoming freshman and one in three transfer students are first-generation college students. And, according to a recent study, 54 percent of first-generation students were financially on their own, compared to only 27 percent of non-first-generation students having full financial responsibility for themselves.

In ensuring these students are knowledgeable about the resources UK offers to navigate their undergraduate journeys, faculty, staff, and student peers are equipping them with tools they can use to meet their needs.

While our first-generation students come from a variety of backgrounds, our doors remain open widest for those from Kentucky. We understand financial wellness is often a top priority for them, and to offset the cost of tuition UK offers the Pollard Scholars Program as well as the Robinson Scholarship for first-generation students from Kentucky.

Groups like the First-Generation Student Organization, led by first-generation student Brittney Sawyer, focus primarily on promoting the needs of such students, while First-Generation Student Advising helps them find a sense of belonging on campus.

The University is also proud to provide a First Generation Living Learning Community, a residential experience designed to support these students and assist them with their transition from high school into college life. Academic success – one of the four pillars of academic excellence at UK – is propelled through connected courses with their peers, increased faculty and staff interaction, as well as intentional programming efforts.

UK is one of many colleges across the country celebrating the thousands of students like Sawyer as part of the First-Generation College Celebration, shedding light upon their vast abilities and fostering an encouraging and inclusive environment.

Thank you to Student Transitions and First Year Programs for hosting such an important week for our community. To learn more about first-generation students and the resources offered to support first-gen students, click here