charmaine in a first gen tshirt

First-Generation Student Programs (FGSP), one of the newest programs within the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE), received a facelift this year after Dr. Charmaine Troy was hired on as the inaugural First-Generation and Limited Income Program and Operations Manager. FGSP provides support for first-generation students across campus—students where neither parent has earned a bachelor’s degree or equivalent at a four-year college or university in the United States. FGSP works alongside Retention Initiatives to build community and foster graduation among Georgia Tech’s first-generation and limited-income students.

In November, FGSP hosted First-Generation College Celebration Week to celebrate the identity and experiences of first-generation students at Georgia Tech. We asked Dr. Troy and Brent Griffin of Retention Initiatives a few questions about the program.

Tell us a bit about yourself your history in OUE/GT, current role, and responsibilities

Charmaine: My name is Dr. Charmaine Troy and I currently serve as the inaugural First-Generation and Limited Income Program and Operations Manager. I lead the university’s work in supporting the co-curricular success of first-generation and limited-income college students. I have served in this role at Georgia Tech for eight (8) months. Before joining Georgia Tech, I served as Assistant Dean for First-Generation Student Success at Virginia Tech.

How was the first-generation experience at Georgia Tech before your arrival?

Brent: Before 2019, specific support for first-generation students was inconsistent. That’s when we intentionally began building the foundation for what would become First-Generation Student Programs. We created a First-Generation, Under-Resourced Student Planning Team to establish goals for first-gen student support, participated in First-Generation Celebration Day for the first time, and re-engaged FirstGen, Georgia Tech’s first-generation student organization. When Charmaine joined the OUE team in April 2021, these small initial actions were taken to a whole new level. Now, thanks to her excellent leadership, First-Generation Student Programs is firmly established in Georgia Tech culture providing peer mentoring to incoming first-generation students, engaging students through a week of first-generation celebration activities, and providing outreach and transitional support to future first-gen students.

What is First-Gen Celebration Week and what is its history across the country and here at GT?

Charmaine: On November 8, 2017, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the NASPA Center for First-generation Student Success launched the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration. First-Generation College Celebration Day is a day that we encourage colleges, universities, corporations, non-profits, and K-12 schools to celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, staff, and alumni. At Georgia Tech, First-Generation Student Programs celebrate the first-generation identity and experiences of first-generation students by hosting a week of events.

What has been the feedback from students and staff from this year’s activities?

Brent: We’re proud of the response to our expanded First-Gen Celebration Week activities. The inaugural symposium was well attended, and the student panel discussion was outstanding. Our webinar in collaboration with Undergraduate Admission attracted over 100 students. The Growing Up in Science event, highlighting President Emeritus Dr. Bud Peterson’s experience as a first-generation student, drew great student interest as did our networking tailgate event during the Boston College football game.

What are the plans for First-Generation Student Programs going into 2022 and beyond?

Charmaine: First-Generation Student Programs will host its inaugural First-Generation Recognition Ceremony on May 5, 2022. We will also be launching the First-Generation College Institute, in collaboration with CEISMC, for 8th-12th grade first-generation high school students on June 25, 2022.