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First-Generation Student Success

First Gen Advocacy Trainings in Spring 2024

MAPS presents First Gen Advocacy Training, a 1.5 hour session meant to advise our campus partners on how to support our first generation Catamounts. This can include reviewing common practices, language used, university policies, and referral methods. We will discuss the profile of a first-gen student at Western, suggest powerful practices, and the future of advocating for our first-gen Catamounts.

The MAPS office will present with affiliates from the First Gen Advisory Board. All participants will receive a First Gen sticker for their attendance and completion of the training.

Sign up on Engage for one of our three sessions this spring by following the links belowing and signing in to Engage to RSVP!

table of MAPS information and swag items


Monday, January 8, 2024 at 1 pm in Killian 116

Engage Link

Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 4 pm - Virtual

Engage Link

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at 2 pm in Belk 406

Engage Link

National First Gen Day 2023 - Join in on the celebration!

National First-Gen Day is celebrated on November 8th every year! We host events throughout the week to celebrate our first-generation Catamounts. Below are the events hosted in Fall 2023, to acknowledge the support we received from our campus partners!

Check back here in Fall 2024 for next year's events!

Monday, November 6

study abroad presentation


Navigating the World of Study Abroad

Presented by Robbie Van Pelt, Study Abroad Advisor

Tuesday, November 7

mug decorating craft


Taco 'Bout It Tuesday

          Presented by MAPS, CAPS, and Faculty

Solved: Graduate School Mysteries!

Presented by Alexis Harp from the Graduate Student Association

First-Gen Fill Up (crafts and goodies!)

Sponsored by Alumni Engagement

Wednesday, November 8: National First Gen Day!

Celebrate YOU! Tabling & Giveaways

First Gen Club meeting

Special Guest: Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Breakfast for Dinner with THE Dennis Brown (first-gen first husband of WCU)

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost

Bright Futures Lantern Walk

This lantern walk will celebrate our first-generation Catamounts - students, faculty, staff, and community partners!

luminary bags spelling first gen


Thursday, November 9

Write For Your Life (Scholarships)

Presented by Jennifer Thomas (two-time WCU grad AND first-gen student!), Senior Assistant Director of University Scholarships

Virtual First-Gen Alumni Panel

Sponsored by Alumni Engagement

Friday, November 10

student holding first gen photo frame


Tea For Two

Sponsored by Residential Living 

Greenway Clean-Up with the First Gen Club

Wear warm layers and closed toed shoes! Tools will be provided. 

We appreciate all of our partners and sponsors who helped us make this celebration week happen! 

Did you know?

  • A First-Generation student is defined as a student whose parents/guardians have not achieved a four-year degree, even if other members of the family have graduated from a four-year university.
  • WCU has a First-Generation Advisory Board that works to provide a positive campus climate and resources for First-Gen students.

Use the resources below to learn how to make the most of your college experience and find strategies to aid in your success.

Do not be afraid to ask for help and do it early!

Know you are not alone - connect with others!

Pursue your passions and strengths!

Additional resources

The FirstGEN Advocate program is designed to support new and continuing first-generation college students (FGCS) during their journey at WCU. Advocates are volunteer faculty and staff members who are trained to be cognizant and sensitive to the needs of FGCS.

By engaging with an Advocate, students can expect to be:

  • Greeted with empathy and understanding
  • Treated with dignity and respect
  • Supported and encouraged to follow their goals and dreams
  • Guided to explore options and opportunities for personal and professional growth
  • Challenged to overcome obstacles and achieve excellence
  • Referred to appropriate campus resources and services

Advocates are identified by displaying the FirstGEN symbol on their office door and wearing a FirstGEN pin or t-shirt at campus events. Find a FirstGEN Advocate.

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