University dedicates new space for first-generation students


The University of Michigan has opened a First-Generation Student Gateway to serve as a central hub of information and support for students who are the first in their families to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Open during regular business hours in the Student Activities Building and housed in suite 3009 in the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, the room serves as a meeting space and study lounge, and the office for Adan Hussain, first-generation project manager.

The space also is available after-hours by request.

The facility focuses on creating a welcoming space for students and serves as a starting point to connect them with resources and support.

“What we’ve done is centralized a lot of first-generation efforts,” says Hussain, who also was a first-generation student. “It was really important to us to have a dedicated space because it creates a welcoming area and shows our commitment that we truly want these students here.”

The gateway provides a variety of resources on financial aid, programs, grants and scholarships, study abroad opportunities, career advice and community building activities. It serves as a launching point for several partner offices including Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, the Comprehensive Studies Program, the Office of New Student Programs and the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives.

The resources are open to all first-generation undergraduate and graduate students and their allies. A first-generation student at U-M is defined as one who may self-identify as not having prior exposure to or knowledge of navigating higher institutions and may need additional assistance.

Kedra Ishop, associate vice provost for enrollment management, said that one in nine students in the 2017 incoming class are the first in their family to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

While other universities are beginning to add similar spaces and programs, Hussain notes that creating the gateway puts U-M ahead of the curve.

“A lot of times it’s even hard knowing what kinds of questions to ask when you’re not familiar with the environment, so this is also that space where people can feel safe to ask those questions, or even come in and say, ‘I don’t even know what to ask,'” he adds.

“It’s so important to have folks come together so that they understand that they’re not the only ones going through these things.”

First-generation student and Ph.D. candidate Carolina Ramirez said she is excited to know there’s a space on campus for her to come together with other similar students.

“Sometimes, as a first-generation student, you feel like a fish out of water. This space will definitely make a difference and make it easier to find information,” she says.



  1. Emily Mathews
    on October 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

    This new space – and the dedicated first-gen website – are wonderful additions of support for the first-gen community. I wish they had been around when I was a student here. Thank you and Go Blue!

  2. Alison Knapp
    on October 10, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Very cool–my hubby would’ve benefited greatly from this back when we were in school. Planning to support the first gen student initiatives fund on Giving Blueday!!/give/basket/fund/327102

  3. Austin Ross
    on October 11, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Well, I guess better late than never. Maybe all that ranting and raving I did as an undergrad had an effect 😉 Then again, it was probably the collective rantings and ravings of years of dissatisfied first-generation students that finally propelled the Kafkaesque bureaucracy at UofM to finally let K. into the damn Castle. Then again, I bet this was a largely student driven affair, as the bureaucracy at Michigan is still stuck in 1926 ;0

  4. Roberto Romello
    on November 14, 2017 at 4:22 am

    Oh this article is really great! Great initiative by the University of Michigan! Hats-off to the university, faculty and staff. “As a first-generation student, you feel like a fish out of water” – this is very true and I’ve personally faced such scenarios. But, the idea of first-generation student today is different from what it was 10 years ago. Anyways, I wish the first-generation students all success in their academic and personal development. Thank you!

    Best Regards
    Roberto Romello

  5. Hult Rambo
    on November 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Oh to have had a first generation emphasis when I became the first person in my tobacco-raising, share-cropping family from the foot hills of Appalachia to go to college!! I think I would have negotiated my way around much better and took advantage of more opportunities. I did finish my BA in Classics about 10 yearr ago and have returned to pursue a PhD at different university. I will cherish my time there, but I know that with this other First-Gens will do much, much better.

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