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CCU plans activities for First-Generation College Celebration

November 6, 2020
First-Generation College Day Celebration is Nov. 8.

Coastal Carolina University will join colleges across the nation next week to celebrate National First-Generation College Day. Since the 2017 national launch of First-Generation College Celebration, college campuses have organized to recognize the contributions of first-generation college students on Nov. 8. This date marks the 55th anniversary of the 1965 Higher Education Act (HEA), which provided federal support for millions of first-generation, low-income students to attend and graduate from college. More than 25 percent of CCU’s students are first-generation students, meaning neither their parents nor guardians have four-year college degrees.

Activities at the University include a virtual panel and a CCU First social media campaign to raise awareness of and support for first-generation students. The recorded panel discussion will be available Nov. 9, and can be accessed using +B0EnVw= as the passcode.

The panel of faculty and staff share their own experiences as first-generation college graduates and offer advice and encouragement for CCU’s first-generation students. The panel members include: Aneilya Barnes, professor and Clark Endowed Chair in the Department of History; Gillian Richards-Greaves, associate professor of anthropology; Tiffany Hollis, assistant professor of foundations, curriculum, and instruction; Jaime McCauley, associate professor of sociology; Joshua Moore, director to the Office of Intercultural and Inclusion Student Services; Shawna Roessler, composition lecturer; Atiya Stokes-Brown, vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion; and Wendy Weinhold, assistant professor of journalism.

“We want our first-generation students to know they belong here, and they should ask every question they have,” Barnes said. “The reason we have so many resources available is so students can maximize their success.”

Barnes is a professor of history at the University and advisor to CCU First, the campus’ first-generation student organization, which is open to all students. Barnes said she wants students to know they are not alone when they are a member of the Coastal community. Barnes has also advocated for first-generation students in multiple interviews on WCCU Radio, the student-run digital radio station.

“My hope is that first-generation students recognize how deeply we value them as part of our community,” Barnes said. “They are so important, and we celebrate the diversity of perspectives and voices they bring to our campus.”

This is the second year CCU will mark National First-Generation College Day. There are numerous resources for first-generation students on CCU’s campus. For example, CCU First formed as a student organization during the 2016-2017 school year, and two years later, the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts formed Edwards First, a committee to research and advocate for first-generation students. There are also multiple first-generation student scholarships to support CCU students with the cost of their education.

Connect with CCU First on social media at the following sites and usernames: on Twitter @ccufirst; on Facebook @ccufirstgen; and on Instagram @ccufirstgen. To connect with first-generation activities and resources across social platforms from around the United States, use #CelebrateFirstGen.