During the pandemic, a new student-run organization began to take shape to connect and support students who identify as first-generation college students. First-Gen Niners brings together campus partners with students who do not have a family history of college attendance to form a support system for the unique challenges and obstacles that many first-generation students face.
For these efforts, UNC Charlotte is among the 2022-23 First-gen Forward cohort as selected by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation. The First-gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education who have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. As a First-gen Forward Institution, UNC Charlotte faculty and staff can engage with peer institutions who are creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students.
“Through the application process, it was evident that UNC Charlotte is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster an environment of success for this important population,” said Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president, Center for First-generation Student Success.
Lisa Insixiengma, a senior majoring in nursing, joined First-Gen Niners when she transferred to Charlotte as a sophomore. She currently serves as the organization’s community outreach chair.
“I value being first-gen, because I admire the quality of resilience,” Insixiengma said. “Being a part of this organization provides reassurance that you’re not the only one going through a similar struggle. We are there for each other, and we support each other as we work to accomplish our goals.”
As a student in the highly competitive nursing program, Insixiengma said, “I fought so hard to get here.”
First-Gen Niners is helping her stay on track.
“When I am feeling discouraged, I take a moment to remember my ‘why.’ I have to focus on the end goal and that’s graduating from college.”
Read more on Division of Academic Affairs website.