National First-Generation College Celebration Day

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Photo courtesy of University of Washington Tacoma

On November 8, 2019, colleges and universities across the United States observed the third annual National First-Generation College Celebration Day by recognizing the successes of faculty, staff, and students who are the first in their families to earn a college degree. At University of Washington Tacoma (UW Tacoma), the campus celebrated the first-generation identity through a weeklong series of events focused on sharing stories and providing communal support.

First-generation students participated in a social media campaign in which university photographers captured them in their favorite spots on campus with messages displaying “what being first means to them,” according to the University of Washington website. The images were shared online using the hashtag #WeAreFirstGenUWT.

The week culminated with a keynote address from UW Tacoma Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Life Bernard E. Anderson and the unveiling of the fourth annual “We Are First Generation” stories campaign, which highlights the diverse experiences and strengths of this community. Faculty, staff, and student stories are displayed on campus and online.

National First-Generation College Celebration Day was founded by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ (NASPA) Center for First-Generation Student Success and the Council for Opportunity in Education. November 8 was selected in honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education

Act of 1965. For more information, visit

Mariah Bohanon is the senior editor of INSIGHT Into Diversity. This article ran in the January/February 2020 issue.