Lehigh University prepared various events for students to celebrate First Generation College Students Celebration Week. (Courtesy of Lehigh University)

First Generation College Students Celebration Week promotes inclusivity and inspires students


Lehigh University prepared various events for students to celebrate First Generation College Students Celebration Week. 

The celebrations started on Nov. 1 and concluded on Nov. 8. 

The first event was first-generation paint night on Nov. 3 in STEPS. The event was hosted by F1RST and Lehigh After Dark. The event allowed students to wind down from midterms and relax while painting tote bags and socializing.

F1RST is a student organization that promote inclusivity among first generation and working class students on campus.

Rita Jones, the director of the Center for Gender Equity, was a first-generation college student. 

She said this is important because there are plenty of students who feel as though a university is a “strange” place to be. 

“Students might be aware of navigating it alone, but they are truly not,” Jones said. “Look at all the possibilities and potential they have. Try to think from an asset model, not a deposit model because we all have great knowledge, experience, and various backgrounds. Sometimes I think everyone can choose a little bit of life. Share those unique pieces.”

Sammi Mapps, ’24, vice president of F1RST and a first-generation student, said she is excited for everyone in her club to have a chance to help support first-generation students on campus and celebrate their success, as well as their own. 

Mapps said F1RST hopes to support first-generation college students and to make sure students have a safe place on campus. The long-term goal of the organization is to create more programs for first-generation students, making things more accessible for them and any other students in need.

The organization has multiple lending libraries for students, including laptops and books, and is in the process of establishing a calculator library. 

Jones said celebrating first-generation week is a chance to recognize everyone who is at college for the first time or students who will be the first to graduate in their families. 

Angel Cui, ’25, said first-generation students should feel empowered to be the first in their family to attend college. 

“Be proud that you are the first to attend college, and work to become prouder to be the first in your family to graduate college,” Cui said.

She said celebrating first-generation week is a chance for students to increase their confidence and reflect on themselves. 

Amber Bierly, ’25, a first-generation college student who attended the event, said it is nice to be recognized for a whole week and was excited to partake in the celebrations.

Bierly said she wants to celebrate students of low-income backgrounds. She thinks it would be good to have a week to celebrate and recognize these students and how far they have come in their success.

“They all had the hoops that they had to jump through in their life, so I think that would be a great week to celebrate,” Bierly said.

Jones wants to have more events that allow interactive celebrations for everyone on campus. She said getting people in public in a positive environment is always a good thing to do. 

When coming to college, Bierly hopes other first-generation students “trust the process,” urging students to spend time putting in effort to succeed. 

“Take any opportunity because you never know where you could put it down,” Bierly said. 

Bierly said the most important thing for these students is to have fun, making sure to balance their mental, emotional and physical health. 

“Every day is a new challenge so find the people on campus who can support you or things that you can support yourself,” Mapps said. “Try not to get overwhelmed by how much is happening, just keep pushing forward and understand what you are doing is difficult to do.” 

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

Leave A Reply