First Generation is a term used to identify a student whose parents have not earned a post-secondary degree. There are thousands of students at the University of Memphis who are the first generation in their family to attend college, and many of our faculty and staff are also first-generation. Being a first-generation student means that you have an outstanding opportunity to write your own story, create your own community, and thrive here at the UofM! To do so, it is important that students take advantage of the supportive resources and programs provided to them at no cost through the Office of First-Generation Student Success (OFGSS).
Our mission in the OFGSS is to provide individual and collective support to all First-Generation students across campus through holistic coaching and counseling. The OFGSS serves as an info hub to connect first-gen students & their families to all campus resources & departments. Other efforts and activities include: 1:1 mentoring, leadership development, career planning, financial aid opportunities, special events, and the tools for students to achieve their personal and academic goals, all while fostering a sense of belonging on campus.
We need your help to expand programming and support for first-generation students by contributing to our fundraising campaign for the Office of First-Generation Student Success (OFGSS). The OFGSS has made significant achievements in empowering and assisting first-gen students, and your donation will help us continue these impactful initiatives.
One of our notable achievements is the OFGSS Peer Mentor Program, which has served over 450 students. Our mentors provide invaluable support through recruitment events, registration drives, early alerts, and advising. Additionally, we have awarded over 300 scholarships to first-gen students and partnered with local schools to increase awareness of financial aid opportunities.
We have also organized engaging events such as First-Gen Week activities, the First-Gen Career Closet (free professional attire and tie-it Tuesday demonstrations to prepare our students for the workforce), and the annual Sapphire Awards to recognize the academic and leadership achievements of our first-gen population. These events foster a sense of community, provide essential resources, and celebrate the accomplishments of first-gen students. Our efforts have gained national recognition, with hundreds of other universities now seeking our guidance on replicating our first-gen services and programming. The University of Memphis OFGSS was named a host and mentor institution for the First-Gen Forward and First Scholars National network. We chair and host all workshops for the Mid-West Region and train and advise over 40 universities in this network on how to support and engage with their first-gen students. The University of Memphis is one of six original First Scholars Program universities and now the only university in the nation who still maintains a full First Scholars/first-generation scholarship model. Through our efforts, we have provided tuition scholarships and full-time academic and personal coaching for hundreds of first-generation students in the First Scholars and Opportunity Scholars programs. Both of these programs have average GPAs over a 3.3 despite requiring our students to only enter with a 2.5 and with ACT scores ranging from a 17 to a 25. Our programs show that first-generation students can succeed a high level, if they only have the support to help them navigate college. However, these 4-year scholarship programs also need funding to remain a resource on campus to students.
The OFGSS is committed to student support and development. Aside from our scholarship and career resource programming, we have established the Alpha Alpha Alpha First-Generation Honors Society and Senior Pinning Ceremony, recognizing the achievements of our graduating seniors. Additionally, our annual First-Gen Phone-a-Thon where we call every incoming, admitted first-generation student has resulted in increased scholarship applications and more recognized opportunities for incoming first-gen freshmen.
The Opportunity Scholars program, part of the OFGSS, has seen remarkable success, with a 100% first-year retention rate and impressive graduation rates. We provide vital support for DACA and Temporary Protected Status students, ensuring access to education for these students who are ineligible for any federal or financial aid other than through our scholarship program.
Your contribution will help us continue these impactful programs, expand our reach, and provide more opportunities for first-gen students to excel academically and personally. Together, let's empower the next generation of first-gen leaders and change-makers. Donate today to make a difference in the lives of these deserving students and help our Tigers to be the First To Roar!