National First-Generation College Celebration

A group photo of students, faculty, and staff underneath the rams horns sculpture in VCU's Commons Plaza.

Since the inception of the National First-Generation College Celebration day on November 8, 2017, Virginia Commonwealth University joins colleges and universities around the country every year in recognizing first-generation college students. Launched by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-generation Student Success, the selection of November 8 was to honor the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which increased access to higher education through grant and loan programs as well as TRIO programs. 

The definition of a first-generation college student is that neither parent or guardian graduated from a four-year institution in the United States. Siblings who are in college or who have graduated are all considered first-gen since siblings are in the same generation (you’re all first-gen!). All of our events are inclusive, so if you feel like your life experiences align closely with those of first-gen students, we encourage you to connect with us and attend these events.

Participate in this year’s activities for a chance to win prizes! Click on the hyperlinked events below to register through RamsConnect.

First-Gen Week Events

November 3 - December 31, 2022
You First Poster Exhibit in Cabell Library
For the third year, first-gen students and their words of encouragement will motivate others on the gallery walls of Cabell Library’s first floor. Browse the display for inspiration to finish the semester strong, to remember why you’re here, and to add your own advice or encouraging words in the interactive part of the exhibit.

Posters of VCU first-gen students posted on walls inside of Cabell Library.

Monday, November 7, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Pizza on the Plaza Resource Fair
Offices and campus resources from across VCU will be on site to showcase their support for first-gen students. Come gather information and enjoy free pizza. Look out for You First at VCU pins to see which staff members are also first-gen!

YouFirst at VCU round logo.

Tuesday, November 8, 11 a.m.
You First Peer Mentor-Led Walk to the VMFA
Join You First mentors Tamra, Shehali, Shannon, Irelyn, and Shady on this fall walk through the Fan neighborhood to tour the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. VCU will be closed for Election Day, so spend your day off celebrating first-gen week while making new friends and seeing one of the most notable art museums on the East Coast. 

Wednesday, November 9, 12:30 p.m.
First-Gen Student, Faculty, and Staff Group Photo
Join us in the Commons Plaza by the Ram Horns for this first-gen photo. The first 300 students, faculty, and staff to sign up will receive a You First at VCU “Unstoppable” t-shirt to wear in this epic group photo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2-4 p.m.
Pop on By to Celebrate First-Generation College Student Week
Calling all adult, non-traditional, and military-affiliated students! Grab some gourmet popcorn or cake pops to celebrate being a first-generation college student. This event is sponsored by the Office of Adult and Non-Traditional Student Services and Military Student Services.

Wednesday, November 9, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
First-Gen Career Networking Banquet
A collaboration among You First at VCU, TRIO, Alumni Relations, and Career Services, this celebratory dinner will provide students with the opportunity to meet first-gen alumni and learn about their college journeys and post-graduation successes. Register early–space is limited.

Thursday, November 10, noon-1 p.m.
Tri-Alpha National Honor Society Induction Ceremony and Lunch
New members of VCU’s Delta Theta chapter of the Alpha Alpha Alpha honor society will be inducted at this lunch ceremony. This event will take place in the Commonwealth Ballrooms and is invitation only.

Alpha Alpha Alpha logo. Est. 2018.

Thursday, November 10, 4-5 p.m.
You First at VCU Faculty and Staff Social
Faculty and staff are invited to VCU's First-Generation Student Success Research Center for a reception to celebrate and honor our first-generation faculty and those faculty members who are instrumental in first-gen student success. Network and socialize with other first-gen advocates and learn about the faculty engagement opportunities that are being sponsored by the Center this academic year. This event will take place in the Rams Lounge, on the lower level of the University Student Commons.

Friday, November 11, 5-7 p.m.
First-Generation College Celebration Grocery Bingo
What’s better than Bingo and food? Come hang out, meet new people, play Bingo, and win grocery bags filled with goodies. In partnership with Ram Pantry and the Global Education Office, You First is putting together prize packs that include meal kits, toiletries, and other household necessities.