In its 100-year history, UCLA has achieved a lot of impressive numbers: No. 1-ranked public university in the United States, 14 Nobel Laureates and 118 NCAA championships.
But here’s another figure the campus is just as proud of: 9,000-plus students who self-report as first-generation college students, which is about one-third of the undergraduate population. At UCLA, a first-generation college student is defined as someone whose parents/guardians did not attain a bachelor’s degree.
Completing a college degree can have a huge impact financially to students, their families, communities and society. According to a study by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce published in 2014, those who have bachelor’s degrees earn on average $1 million more than high school graduates over the course of a lifetime. In addition, Ph.D. holders earn $1 million more than bachelor’s degree holders.
Once on campus, first-generation students can sometimes feel like they don’t genuinely belong, said Symone Morales, coordinator of campus-wide first-gen initiatives in the UCLA First to Go office. Morales, who is a first-generation college graduate, said this imposter syndrome often stems from the fact that first-generation college students haven’t had as much access to people who can decode things, like what a professor means when she mentions office hours.
“First-Generation Awareness Week gives us the opportunity to bring to light the first-gen identity, celebrate the students’ success, highlight important resources that may be beneficial to their persistence here at UCLA, and to continue to assist them in building their network of support,” Morales said.
To recognize all those students have achieved navigating the application process without parents or guardians who can share their own experiences and still ultimately enrolling, UCLA is presenting a host of programming and activities for First-Gen Awareness week, which begins today.
Monday, Jan. 27
- First-Gen & Juice. 10 a.m. to noon. Bradley International Hall Room 315
Free swag and light breakfast with the first-gen staff, hosted by First To Go program
- Association of First-Gen Undergrads meeting. 7 to 8 p.m. Mathematical Sciences building Room 5203
Tuesday, Jan. 28
- Instagram Live Q&A with first-gen students. 2:30 p.m. from @UCLA_FirstGen
During this event, which is hosted by First To Go and the First To Go Living Learning Community, first-gen students will be answering questions about utilizing resources, the study abroad process, finding and building community, and securing jobs and internships on campus.
Students can submit questions two ways: sending a direct message to the @UCLA_FirstGen Instagram account or they can leave their questions on the account’s curated Instagram post that was published on Jan. 24. The Instagram live will be saved as a series of IGTV videos that students can watch at any time on the platform.
Wednesday, Jan. 29
- Common Experience: Meet the Producers event. Noon to 1:30p.m. Pauley Pavilion Clubhouse
Hosted by the Common Experience program and First To Go, this panel discussion will focus on gentrification in Los Angeles with urban planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and the producers of the “There Goes the Neighborhood” podcast. The panel will be moderated by Carolina San Juan, assistant director of UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program graduate mentoring and research programs.
- First-Gen Visibility and Appreciation Day. 6 to 8 p.m. De Neve Quad
Hosted by the First To Go Living Learning Community, the first-gen community can participate in writing thank you postcards to mentors, listen to music, build community and eat cookies. The postcards will be mailed by the staff of the living learning community.
- First-Gen Etiquette Dinner. 6 to 8:45 p.m.
Hosted by First to Go, this will be a free four-course dinner and etiquette class for 50 people that will teach dinner etiquette, interview preparation, addressing imposter syndrome and shared advice among the community. Participants include undergraduate, graduate, faculty, staff and alumni. REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.
Thursday, Jan. 30
- Ready, Set, Teach! Supporting First-Gen Students. Noon to 2 p.m. in Royce Hall Room 306.
Hosted by the humanities division and excellence in pedagogy and innovation classrooms, this luncheon will focus on teaching practices relevant to first-generation college students. This event is open to the entire first-gen community, but space is limited. RSVP for the workshop by clicking here.
- UCLA Resources 101 for first-gen graduate students. 4 to 5:30 p.m. Student Activities Center Conference Room 5
Hosted by the Graduate Student Resource Center programming committee, graduate students can learn about free services for students, best practices for getting questions answered and how the center can support their needs. Students can RSVP by clicking here.
Friday, Jan. 31
- First To Go, Proud to Be! All day.
Members of the first-gen community at UCLA are encouraged to wear their first-gen swag and show their pride and visibility.