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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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First-Generation Student Success at SDSU First-Generation Student Success at SDSU

SDSU Designated a First-gen Forward Advisory Institution

SDSU has been nationally recognized for the university’s commitment to first-generation student success.
By SDSU News Team

In recognition of scaled efforts to improve the experiences and successes of first-generation students, San Diego State University is among 12 U.S. institutions elevated as a First-gen Forward Advisory Institution.

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, recently announced the elevated institutions. 

The elevated designation recognizes universities committed to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students.

“This is truly an honor for our university. So many of our faculty and staff share in the experiences of our first-generation students and also understand the uniqueness when one is the first in their family to attend college,” said SDSU Provost Salvador Hector Ochoa.

“Being the first should never be a barrier to college access or success,” Ochoa said. “And we know that when we remove these barriers so that first-generation students can be successful, they are often not the last in their families to pursue college and achieve.” 

About 40% of SDSU’s student population is first-generation. 

“Now, in its third year, First-gen Forward Institutions continue to lead the nation by their commitment to first-generation student success,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. 

“With the growth of the 2021-22 cohort, SDSU was elevated to the Advisory Institution designation. We commend SDSU for their stalwart first-generation student efforts and look forward to working more closely through the Advisory designation.”

A Decades-old Commitment 

SDSU was the first California State University campus to be selected as a First-gen Forward Institution in 2019 recognized for its university-wide commitment to first-generation excellence.  

“This accolade celebrates a long history of SDSU’s commitment to first-generation college student excellence,” said Joanna Brooks, associate vice president for Faculty Advancement and Student Success. “SDSU continues to be a model campus in student success.” 

SDSU has a long history of first-generation support, and many offices and support programs and services have existed for years. Those include the Office of Educational Opportunity Programs and Ethnic Affairs, which serves students from low-income backgrounds and historically underserved communities by providing transitional services that facilitate recruitment, retention and success. 

“This prestigious recognition is a direct result of SDSU’s long history of programs in both Academic and Student Affairs-Campus Diversity, which serve first-gen students across the university and led by dedicated faculty and staff, many who are first-gen professionals themselves,” said Michelle Lopez, assistant dean for student success.

Another is SDSU’s Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences. This intensive undergraduate research training program prepares students for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs, or behavioral science Ph.D. programs.

Through a new campuswide coordinated approach to advising, SDSU has introduced Coordinated Care Advisors. First-year students who seek academic advising at the Office of Evaluations will be referred to these designated advisors for tailored support. 

The Weber Honors College is part of the university-wide effort and offers workshops to help first-generation students see themselves as honors students. 

SDUS also helps first-generation students secure national scholarships and fellowships, pursue graduate school opportunities, connects them to professional and personal development programs and also first-generation mentors. 

“If students know their faculty member identifies as first-gen it helps them know they have a shared identity,” said Martha Enciso, associate director of the Weber Honors College. “When they go to office hours, it’s not just about seeing them as a professor but knowing that ‘this person underwent something similar to what I am going through now and maybe they can help me navigate from this perspective.’”

More Developments Forthcoming 

Selected Advisory Institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the center’s research and resources. 

SDSU is already working on taking advantage of resources provided by NASPA by using these tools to inform and help colleagues across the campus learn more about the first-gen community so that they can better serve that population of students.

In this Advisory Institution capacity, SDSU will provide leadership to universities including Biola University, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California State University, Los Angeles, California State University, Monterey Bay, Harvey Mudd College, University of California, Irvine and the University of Southern California. 

Select SDSU faculty and staff will also be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. SDSU will be invited to participate in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, annual reporting, and more. 

For more information on all of the first-generation student success efforts underway at SDSU visit the SDSU First Gen website