KSU recognized for first-generation college student success

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 23, 2019

University designated a First Forward institution by NASPA

First Forward Logo

Kennesaw State is one of only two universities in Georgia recently named among the inaugural cohort of institutions designated as First Forward institutions by the Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation.  

The designation recognizes 80 colleges and universities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes for first-generation college students. As a First Forward institution, Kennesaw State will engage with peer institutions to share best practices about how to help first-generation students succeed in college and beyond.

“First-generation students are vital to higher education because they realize their dreams though perseverance and integrity while setting an invaluable example for others who may not realize that they too can attend college,” said Lynn Disbrow, interim associate vice provost for student success and dean of University College. “Kennesaw State is committed to helping first-generation students find their path to a college degree and career success. Being able to collaborate with other universities in this cohort only strengthens our ability to help these students succeed.”

Through a collaboration between KSU’s University College and Division of Student Affairs, first-generation students have access to a variety of programs and resources.

For residential students, a living-learning community on the Kennesaw Campus provides a unique living environment where students choose to live, helping them to join with other residents in their shared experiences as first-generation students. First Gen Owls, a registered student organization, and the Friends of First-Gen Mentoring Community also offer a network that supports student success. 

Kennesaw State’s support for eligible first-generation students includes financial assistance through two scholarship programs: The Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program and the Achieve Atlanta College Partnership. These initiatives also provide additional mentoring and support services to help students succeed in college.

“Nearly one-third of our student body is first generation, so providing our students with the tools and resources they need to be successful in college is paramount in our commitment to learning,” said K.C. White, Vice President for Student Affairs.

First Forward campus liaisons at KSU, Natasha Lovelace Habers, assistant chair of the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies, and Shameka Wells, interim director of KSU’s Cultural and Community Centers are responsible for championing first-generation student success initiatives at the University and for ensuring it meets the obligations of being a First Forward institution.

First Forward is the nation’s first program that acknowledges higher education institutions for their commitment to first-generation student success. The institutions that are part of the inaugural First Forward cohort receive professional development, community-building experiences and a first look at the Center’s research and resources. 

In November, Kennesaw State will take part in the National First-Generation College Celebration, a nationwide celebration to recognize the successes of the institution’s first-generation students, alumni faculty and staff. The national celebration commemorates the anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

—Tiffany Capuano

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.