Cal Poly Pomona will celebrate its annual First-Generation College Student Week Nov. 7 to 10 with in-person and virtual events throughout the week.
The university is one of many that participates in the Nov. 8 national celebration of the first-generation community of students, faculty, staff and alumni in higher education. The events are part of the Office of Student Success’ I Am First program, which aims to create visibility for and connect the first-generation community on campus.
I Am First aims to increase representation of and cultivate the first-generation community, according to Nonzenzele Aldonza, assistant coordinator for First-Generation Programs for the Office of Student Success, Equity and Innovation (OSSEI).
At CPP, students are considered first-generation if neither of their natural or adoptive parents received a bachelor’s degree in the United States; if they regularly resided with and received support from only one parent and that supporting parent did not receive a bachelor’s degree; or if an individual did not reside with or receive support from a natural or adoptive parent.
As of fall 2022, approximately 15,400 (57 percent) students are first-generation. Many staff and faculty are also first-generation college graduates.
Jacqueline Naranjo, senior coordinator of Academic Support and Engagement for the Office of Student Success, Equity, and Innovation, said that I Am First was created in response to generating visibility and highlighting CPP’s faculty and staff who were also the first in their families to graduate from college.
“In doing so, I Am First sought to celebrate the unique experiences of first-generation college students and create a sense of belonging on campus,” Naranjo said. “Being a first-generation college student is not a visible identity, but it is a salient one that significantly shapes the academic journey of our students.”
In 2018, I Am First relaunched as a campus-wide initiative to expand efforts and identify campus programs and resources that support first-generation students. A mentorship program was designed to match first-generation college students with faculty and staff who identify as former first-generation college students. Aldonza said that the mentorship program is unique because it connects students with first-generation faculty and staff with the hope that they can relate to students’ fears, concerns and aspirations in life.
“We allow students to be as descriptive as possible about the ideal mentor they believe would support them in their personal and academic endeavors,” Aldonza said.
This year, OSSEI, Strategic Communications and MediaVision have partnered on an I Am First branding campaign, including a refreshed website, banners on campus light poles, and videos highlighting first-gen community members.
Some of the ideas for this campaign came from a group of seven first-generation students who worked with staff from Strategic Communications, OSSEI and Student Affairs during spring 2022 to develop concepts for a campaign to elevate student voices, highlight under-represented communities and promote student success. Eddie Rangel (’22, visual communication design), a member of that group who also did graphic design for the new campaign, said that he is glad that CPP is acknowledging first-generation students and their needs.
“They deserve recognition, support, and motivation to keep them moving forward and CPP is offering that with this campaign,” Rangel said. “I’m hoping that after the I Am First campaign; they will feel more comfortable with their university experience.”
CPP and the I Am First team invite all faculty, staff and students to attend the in-person and online events held during First-Generation College Student Week. More information about the I Am First campaign can be found on the I Am First website and additional information about each individual event can be found on the I Am First events page.
November 7: First-Gen Kick-Off Celebration
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at University Park
Join us as we kick-off our week in celebration of our first-generation students. Stop by for some free giveaways, learn about first-gen campus resources, participate in a signature poster and more.
November 7: First-Gen Spotlight: Dr. Mike Muñoz, Long Beach City College Superintendent/President
Noon to 1 p.m. in BSC, Ursa Minor. RSVP Required
Join us for a first-hand account on Dr. Muñoz’s experiences navigating college as a first-generation college student and now successful educational leader.
November 7: Unwritten Rules: First-Gen’s Guide to Success
4 to 5 p.m. on Zoom
Log into this virtual presentation that will review the unwritten rules that contribute to college success.
November 8: Bite of Reality: Interactive Budget Simulation
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in BSC, Ursa Minor
Join this fun interactive workshop that will let you practice your budgeting skills. Earn prizes and enjoy a free lunch.
November 8: Kellogg Honors College Application Process for First-Year Freshmen
Noon to 12:50 p.m. in Building 1-309
Current First-Year Freshmen: Learn more about the Kellogg Honors College and how to apply.
November 8: CLASS First-Generation Faculty Panel
5:30 to 7 p.m. in Building 6-227
Join this panel where first-generation College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS) faculty share their experiences and advice with CLASS majors.
November 8: Show your first-gen pride and wear your I AM FIRST shirt on Nov. 8
November 9: First-Gen Mixer
2 to 4 p.m. in University Quad
Stop by and meet other first-gen Broncos at this mixer.
November 9: First-Gen on Tap!
5 to 7 p.m. at Innovation Brew Works
Stop by to learn more about the mentorship program and meet other first-generation students, faculty and staff while eating and drinking for a cause. Purchases from IBW will go towards establishing a first-gen scholarship.
November 10: Benefits and Opportunities of Undergraduate Research
Noon to 1 p.m. in Building 1-109
Learn about different research opportunities and benefits.
November 10: CPP Connect Planner
Noon to 1 p.m. in the Library, room 2907
Stop by for an in-person workshop to learn about your major roadmap through CPP Connect Planner.
November 10: CPP Connect Planner (Online)
2 to 3 p.m. on Zoom
If you can’t make it in-person, join the virtual workshop and learn about your major roadmap through CPP Connect Planner.
November 10: Writing Winning Scholarship Essays
Noon to 1 p.m. on Zoom
Join the virtual workshop and learn how to write competitive essays to apply for scholarships.