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This is the third year that higher education institutions across the country have been encouraged to celebrate first-generation college students on their respective campuses through the Center for First-Generation Student Success (an initiative by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Suder Foundation). This is the first year Canisius is participating. Campus efforts are co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Association (USA) Diversity Committee, Alpha Kappa Delta and the Griff Center for Student Success. Please see below for more information on how you can join Canisius’ first-generation student community in its inaugural year.

Why celebrate first-gen?

Being a first-generation college student is an important part of a student’s identity on a college campus. A first-generation college student is defined as a student whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) have not completed a bachelor’s degree. As the first in their family to attend, it is critical that first-generation college students are advised, celebrated and encouraged throughout their collegiate experience to showcase a supportive learning community as the student pursues their educational goals.

Why this week?

Friday, November 8 was selected as the date for the annual National First-Generation College Celebration to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The legislation made key investments for access within institutions of higher education including increased support for matriculation of first-generation college students.

Are you first-gen?

If you are a first-generation college student and are willing to be highlighted as part of our social media campaign, please Email Mark Harrington, interim senior associate dean for student success and program director for higher education and student affairs administration (HESAA), at We are looking to showcase our first-generation faculty, staff, administrators and students throughout the week. #FirstGenGriffs

How can you support?

There are a few events throughout the week leading up to the National First-Gen Day. On Friday, November 8, we encourage you to stop by the table outside of the Library between 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and be part of our photo campaign supporting for our first-generation college students. We also will have the cards (photo) below available for the campus community at the table. If you cannot attend but want a card to hang within your workspace, notify Mark Harrington and one will be delivered to you.

What’s next?

As we think about supporting first-generation college students at Canisius moving forward, we can continue to build upon this week’s programming and provide additional resources and initiatives to support our students. If you are interested in joining a working group to begin in the spring semester, notify Mark Harrington.

Thank you in advance for celebrating our first-generation faculty, staff, administrators and students this week!

Submitted by: Mark Harrington, interim senior associate dean, Student Success; program director, Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESAA)