First-generation college students celebrated with week of events


Clemson joins colleges and universities across the country in celebrating first-generation students and graduates this week.

November 8, 2020, marks the 55th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Higher Education Act (HEA), which has helped millions of first-generation, low-income and under-resourced students earn college degrees. To commemorate the significant impact of the act, November 8 has been designated First-Generation College Celebration by the Council for Opportunity for Education (COE), in partnership with the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation.

Hosted by the department of Community Achievement and Student Empowerment (CASE) and the FIRST Program, Clemson University’s celebration of first-generation students will be November 9-13.

Clemson currently has 3,378 undergraduate students who identify as being the first members of their family to attend college

“This week gives these students visibility on campus, given that first generation status is not readily apparent to their peers,” said FIRST Program Director Sherry Dorris.

“Michele Obama, a Princeton alum and first-generation student herself, advises that ‘There is power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.’ First Generation Celebration Week allows us to give first gen students at Clemson a platform to be seen.”

Sarah Dumas, assistant director for enrichment programs in CASE, said the week is about celebrating first-generation college students and their achievements while showcasing the extensive network of faculty, staff and alumni who are first-generation college graduates.

The week of activities consists of virtual experiences via Zoom and social media.

“As a first-generation student myself, I am grateful to see a week set aside this year to honor and celebrate first-generation excellence at Clemson,” said Simone Richardson, graduate assistant in CASE. “I hope our students take advantage of these opportunities to connect with other first-gen students, faculty and staff.”

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to download virtual Zoom backgrounds to use throughout the week. People can engage on Instagram and Twitter at @ClemsonCASE and @ClemsonFirst using the hashtags #FirstGenProud and #CelebrateFirstGen. Another opportunity to engage throughout the week via social media is to thank or acknowledge allies and supporters of first-generation students using #FirstGenAlly.

For more details related to the week’s events please visit the First-Generation College Celebration website.

Scheduled events:

November 9: Defining First-Generation Excellence

Virtual via Zoom at 11:30 a.m.


November 10: The Many Faces of the First-Generation Community

Virtual via Instagram throughout day (@ClemsonFIRST and @ClemsonCASE)


November 11: Self-Care & Mental Health

Virtual via Instagram throughout day (@ClemsonFIRST and @ClemsonCASE)


November 12: CASE in Point: Navigating Your Respective Industry Based on Social Identities

Virtual via Zoom at 6 p.m.


November 13: First-Generation Day of Celebration and Virtual Game Night

Virtual via Zoom at 6 p.m.

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