UT recognizes first-generation Longhorns as part of nationwide celebration

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Photo Credit: Jacob Fraga | Daily Texan Staff

Hundreds of first-generation Longhorns enjoyed refreshments and received free UT merchandise Thursday afternoon as part of national First-Generation Celebration Day

The University’s second annual First-Generation College Celebration in the Main Building rounded out a week of events recognizing the more than 9,000 first-generation students on campus. Mike Gutierrez, senior program coordinator with Student Success Initiatives, said events like these bring first-generation students in every college together as a community.

“I think that’s important here at UT to recognize that they have made great accomplishments, that they’re a part of the UT community and that we can make sure that for every first-generation student, we can really help them on their pathway to graduation,” Gutierrez said.

The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, an organization supporting student affairs, named Nov. 8 as First-Generation Celebration Day three years ago. The day encourages colleges to host their own events honoring first-generation students. 

Over the past three years, the University’s own celebration has expanded from social media posts to a weeklong celebration across the Forty Acres. The other events held this year included an interactive budgeting game, a networking workshop and a resource fair.

“There was already work going on for first-generation students … in different departments,” Gutierrez said. “Now, there’s a unified way to really showcase the first-generation Longhorn identity and build on that community together.”

First-generation student Jessica Dao said the event made her feel welcomed on campus and served as a networking opportunity among other first-generation Longhorns.

“It doesn’t matter what background you come from. If your parents have graduated from college or not or have some education, everyone still respects who you are,” undeclared freshman Dao said. “It builds good networking because you have something in common, but at the same time, you get to know other people from different majors and other colleges.”

Psychology freshman Laura Loya said she felt acknowledged as a first-generation student and secure in her place on campus through the event.

“I wanted to meet more people that are first-generation because in my classes, I don’t see all these people,” Loya said. “It makes me feel acknowledged for sure. Not lonely, in a way. That there are more people like me. It makes me feel like I do have a place here.”