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Celebrating new scholars

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Wofford celebrates its first annual First-Generation Students week

Last year, the First-Generation Students Day was declared as Nov. 8 in celebration of students who are the first-generation to attend college in their families. Wofford celebrated its first annual First-Generation Students week this year, November 5-9, with the theme “I Am First.”  

 

“The formal definition of a first-generation college student is a student whose parents or guardians have not obtained a bachelor’s degree. The inaugural First-Generation College Celebration was held Nov. 8, 2017, by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success. The day is used to highlight and celebrate this important aggregation on college campuses across the country,” said James Stukes, coordinator of student success at Wofford. 

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The week’s “I Am First” events incorporated not only first-generation college students, but included first-generation Wofford faculty and staff as well. On Monday, Nov. 5, a First Year, First-Generation student dinner was hosted and invitations were sent out to first-generation students in the freshmen class. This dinner allowed the students to interact with other first-generation students as well as faculty and staff who were first-generation students themselves. 

 

“It is important that we celebrate first-generation students early on as freshmen and introduce them to faculty and staff that were once in their shoes in order to create a campus support system for them,” said Stukes. 

 

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, a first-generation college student discussion was held for faculty and staff only in order to discuss why first-generation college students are important to the Wofford campus community. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, Raven Tucker, a sophomore artist, conducted a free paint and pour event for students. The National First-Generation College Student Day celebration took place in Burwell at lunch on Thursday, Nov. 8, with music, free buttons, bracelets and more as well as a drawing for a $50 gift card. 

 

There was a panel Thursday night as well where students, faculty and staff explored what it means to be a first-generation college student. The first annual first-generation students’ week at Wofford came to a close on Friday, Nov. 9, with free cupcakes by Suga Cakes for the first 100 people on the seal of Old Main. 

 

Wofford has 254 first-generation students on campus currently, equating to roughly 15% of the Wofford population. Of those 254 first-generation students, 85 are freshmen which illustrates a substantial increase from years past.  

 

Part of this increase is thanks to funding allocated to new Citizen Scholars in partnership with the Spartanburg County Foundation. Thanks to this funding, Wofford will offer $20,000 a year in scholarship money to Citizens Scholars who qualify as Life Scholarship recipients and $25,000 a year to those who qualify as Palmetto Fellow Scholars. Over the past four years, Wofford has guaranteed 20 first-generation students $25,000 in scholarships for each entering class. 

 

“The addition of these scholarship dollars for new Citizen Scholars illustrates Wofford’s continued commitment to providing transformative educational experiences that are both accessible and affordable. First-generation college students change their families, and they make their communities better places in which to live and raise families,” says President Samhat.

Caption: Demario Watts and James Stukes stand at the first-generation students giveaway table on National First-Generation College Students Day.

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