First Generation at CSU

First Generation College Celebration Day

Dear Rams:

Today marks the National First-Generation College Celebration Day  to celebrate the success of First-Generation college students, faculty, staff and alumni across the country, and reinforce a national commitment in higher education to foster student success. November 8th was selected to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, ushering in programs including the Federal TRIO programs (named for the original three programs – Upward Bound, Talent Search, and Student Support Services – designed to assist and support students to begin and complete post-secondary degrees). CSU is proud to participate in this celebration by recognizing those of you who will be or are first in your families to graduate college. You are valued here and you are not alone.

We have a large First-Generation Ram community with one-in-five students and many faculty and staff who are First Generation. I am proud to be a First-Generation college graduate, too. I know it is a different journey and set of experiences many of you have traveled to get here, and you are breaking new ground in pursuit of your dreams.

I encourage you to embrace your identity as First Generation now and throughout your life, but know today is celebrated in your honor. There will be activities on the Lory Student Center Plaza from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and a special presentation on The First-Generation Identity by Shequeeta Hazard, a UCHealth clinical social worker, two-time CSU alumna and First-Generation college graduate. Her talk will be 4-5 p.m. in LSC, Room 382. These events are open to the entire CSU community.

I want to give a special thanks to the following staff and their centers/units who helped lead the planning of today’s celebration:

    • Amelia Castañeda, Community For Excellence
    • Dani Diaz, Office of Inclusive Excellence
    • Ricky Guzman, Academic Advancement Center
    • Susana Ruvalcaba, Access Center

Faculty and staff – if you are a First-Generation college graduate, please consider sharing your story with students with whom you engage. Your success as a role model can serve to inspire students to overcome any challenges they may face along their college journey, whether or not they are First Generation.

Colorado State University has a long and lasting legacy as an institution that supports First-Generation students. In 1984, we became the first university in the nation to offer First-Generation scholarships. In 2016 the First-Generation Alumni Scholarship Award was renamed after Barb Musslewhite, Director of the Opportunity Scholar Programs, who dedicated much of her career at CSU to supporting First-Generation student success along with Paul Thayer, Associate Vice President for Student Success. Both retired in 2016, but their impact remains and their efforts have been carried forward by other dedicated staff and faculty at CSU.

Please join me in celebrating National First-Generation College Celebration Day, as it reflects something that holds a special place in our Ram history, our values, and our collective heart.


Mary Pedersen
Provost and Executive Vice President