CSUMB earns membership in coalition to support first-generation students

Students at the TRIO Student Support Services photo booth

Photo by: Alyssa Herrera Students at the TRIO Student Support Services photo booth

March 8, 2021

By Walter Ryce

CSUMB has earned inclusion into the 2021-22 First-gen Forward cohort of higher education institutions by the Center for First-generation Student Success.

According to the Center, selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources. Members can also attend workshops, receive professional development, and more.

“CSUMB is proud to have been selected to join First-gen Forward,” says Katherine A. Kantardjieff, CSUMB’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “As a university with a student body that is 53% first-generation students, we look forward to combining our longstanding efforts in productive collaborations with institutions across the nation to advance the success of first-generation students.”

On campus, such students can expect a strong contingent of support, including from the College Support Programs, Director of Student Housing and Residential Life, Dean of Students, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, up to the Office of the President and the university’s very Mission Statement.

Programs like First-Year Success Living-Learning Community provide a dedicated environment for those students who want extra support, including Resident Advisors who help connect them to campus traditions and academic resources.

The First-Generation Celebration is a collaboration among a number of CSUMB divisions that celebrates and integrates the experiences of first-generation students into campus life, and puts students in contact with first-generation faculty for mentorship.

This support system is informed by campus inventory or needs assessment, focus groups, and program evaluation surveys.

Clementina Macias is the director for College Support Programs.

Clementina Macias is the director for College Support Programs.

Clementina Macias says she was a first-generation and low-income college student, and now, as CSUMB’s director for College Support Programs, is focused on providing access and creating support systems for all students to succeed in college and beyond. This is deeply rooted in her own journey as a first-generation college student who worked her way through college.

“Inclusion in First-gen Forward is important because it tells others that we’re committed,” Macias says. “We’re in a cohort of other institutions which will allow us to expand on the work we have begun together. We can maximize our efforts.”

That shared institutional learning will be brought to CSUMB’s First-Gen Forward committee, which she co-chairs with Jeff Cooper, director of Student Housing and Residential Life.

“Through the application process, it was evident that CSUMB is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster an environment of success for this important population,” says Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president for the Center for First-generation Student Success.

The Center was established in June 2017 in a joint effort by two organizations: the entrepreneurial Suder Foundation, begun by Eric and Deborah Suder in 2008 to increase first-generation college student graduation rates; and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), a 100-plus-year-old student-affairs organization of more than 13,000 members at 1,400 campuses in 25 countries.

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