El Camino College to Celebrate First-Gen Awareness Week
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El Camino College to Celebrate First-Gen Awareness Week

Recognized as a national leader in supporting first-generation students, El Camino College will join with other college and university campuses across the country to participate in First-Gen Awareness Week, a celebration of first-generation students, staff, and faculty that runs Nov. 4-8. 

El Camino College is the only community college in the nation to be a part of the leadership component in First Forward, a program sponsored by The Center for First-generation Student Success, which works to increase the success of first-generation college students. An “Advisory Institution” participant in the inaugural cohort of First Forward Institutions, ECC is also the only campus out of the 115 California community colleges to participate in this new and innovative program. 

First-Gen Awareness Week activities at El Camino College begin Nov. 4 with an invitation-only First-Gen STEM Luncheon for students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. A First-Gen Faculty Panel & Student Mixer follows on Nov. 5, where panelists will share their personal first-gen stories. Students are encouraged to attend, ask questions and network with other first-generation students, faculty and staff. Nov. 6 has been named “First-Gen Warrior Wednesday,” a day where all employees and students are invited to show their First-Gen pride by wearing their El Camino College first-gen gear. Participants are asked to share their experience on social media throughout the week, using the hashtag #FirstGenWarrior. 

“With nearly 51% of El Camino College students who identify as being first in their family to pursue a four-year degree, we are committed to designing programs that increase college access and support for first-generation college students so they have the tools they need to be successful and complete their academic goals,” said Dena P. Maloney, president of El Camino College.  

First-Gen Awareness Day is Nov. 8, marking the 54th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Higher Education Act (HEA), which has helped millions of first-generation, low-income/under-resourced students earn college degrees. On this day, El Camino College faculty and staff who are first-generation college students, or an ally to this student population, are asked to wear their first-gen buttons. In addition, first-generation faculty members are invited to share their own first-gen stories in their classes. 

First-Gen Awareness Week at El Camino College is coordinated by the First Year Experience program and the First-Gen Task Force, which includes representatives from many programs on campus that serve first-gen students. Counselors Cynthia Mosqueda and Seranda Bray, and English professor Darrell Thompson are leading the effort. 

“One of our goals is to provide professional development to faculty, staff, and administrators regarding first-gen issues and to create a sense of ‘first-gen pride’ so all students feel welcome the minute they step foot on campus,” said Mosqueda, an ECC grad and first-gen student who has led many of the college’s first-gen efforts and is working with other colleges to develop their own programs. “Being first in your family often comes with many challenges, and it’s important to create student programming that both supports and celebrates their first-gen status.”   

The First-Gen Initiative was established in 2017 at El Camino College to help guide efforts in providing support for students whose parents did not graduate from a four-year college or university. A variety of professional development opportunities and activities for students, faculty and staff have been implemented since then, and in spring 2018, El Camino College launched the First-Gen Institute on campus to bring more awareness to first-gen students on campus. Other recent first-gen activities at El Camino College include a faculty conference that covered topics that many first-gen students experience, a First-Generation College Day, and a First-Gen Symposium for students.

For more information about first-generation programs and activities at El Camino College, view http://www.elcamino.edu/student/academicsupport/first-gen-institute/.

November 4, 2019