Colgate Celebrates First-Generation Students

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Kimberly Sacco '93 delivers the keynote during First Gen Week
By Ben Badua November 18, 2021

Colgate joined colleges, universities, and other institutions around the country this month in celebrating National First-Generation College Student Day, Nov. 8.
Organized by First@Colgate, a program designed to support first-generation students and their families, the University’s extended celebration consisted of discussions, workshops, networking, and social events that proudly acknowledged the legacy and contributions first-gen students have made to Colgate throughout its history.
“We want first-generation students to know that there is a community of people on this campus that support them and that there is a community of other first-gen students who understand their experiences,” says RaJhai Spencer,  the Giovanni '94 and Maree Cutaia Director of First@Colgate.
Colgate kicked off its first-gen celebration on Nov. 4 with a Shaw Wellness Institute–hosted workshop designed to help build psychological resilience. Kimberly Sacco ’93 delivered the keynote, in which she shared her own experiences as a first-generation college graduate and the obstacles she overcame throughout her journey in higher education.
The University participated in its first National Quest Day on Nov. 6. QuestBridge is a nonprofit that connects exceptional students with limited financial means to leading institutions of higher education. The virtual event brought together members of the organization’s nationwide community, which Colgate joined last year.
Students celebrated National First-Generation Day itself with Dean of Students Dorsey Spencer Jr.. First@Colgate then hosted a networking lunch with University first-gen faculty, staff, and students. Colgate closed out its series on Nov. 9 with a session led by Associate Professor of Mathematics Silvia Jiménez Bolaños, who shared her journey from a first-generation college student experiencing imposter syndrome to a member of the University’s tenured faculty.
Colgate strives to attract and support students from diverse backgrounds as part of its Third-Century Plan. Initiatives like the Colgate Commitment expand access by reducing or eliminating students’ tuition based on family income level, and partnerships with organizations like Questbridge expand the reach of the University’s admission efforts. As a result, first-generation enrollment is increasing steadily. This fall, 14.1% of Colgate’s first-year class, the Class of 2025, are first-generation college students compared with 8.9 percent in the Class of 2022.