When the Complete College Georgia (CCG-GT) initiative launched in 2011, targeting support for Georgia Tech’s first-generation students quickly became a priority among campus leaders.
When the Complete College Georgia (CCG-GT) initiative launched in 2011, targeting support for Georgia Tech’s first-generation students quickly became a priority among campus leaders. The first in their families to attend college, first-generation students are in many ways pioneers. But because they make up less than 10% of Georgia Tech undergraduates, their unique needs may go unaddressed by the Institute.
For example, they may struggle with a sense of belonging or lack the tools to navigate the complex Georgia Tech environment with its decentralized student support and academic pressures. In response, Tech crafted several initiatives to welcome and assist first-generation students on campus. The Office of Undergraduate Admission highlighted First-Gen Phenoms — students, faculty, and staff who identify as first-generation and have built a record of achievement at Tech. Similarly, a student organization, FirstGen, was established to build community among Tech’s first-generation undergraduates.
In 2019, Georgia Tech rededicated itself to realizing the original CCG-GT vision of enhanced support for first-generation students. A broad-based team of campus leaders from Student Life, Enrollment Management, Undergraduate Education, the Library, and Colleges and Schools collaborated with FirstGen to review existing initiatives and provide strategic direction for what’s next. As a result, support for first-generation students is growing.
In Fall 2019, Georgia Tech participated for the first time in the nationwide First-Generation Student Celebration Day. During the pandemic, Tech’s event moved online as a panel discussion of first-generation faculty and staff, moderated by FirstGen. Last summer, virtual welcome events for incoming first-generation students were held as part of FASET. Diversity and Inclusion Fellows are compiling contact information for first-generation faculty and exploring mentorship opportunities for students.
Most recently, in the context of the new Institute strategic plan and its themes of expanding access and cultivating well-being, the Office of Undergraduate Education is excited to welcome Charmaine Troy as the inaugural first-generation, limited income student program and operations manager. Troy will be responsible for the continued expansion of services to first-generation students, embedding these services within the fabric of the Institute. She joins the Institute from Virginia Tech, where she served as assistant dean for First-Generation Student Success.
My motivation for promoting first-generation student success comes from my personal experience as an African American first-generation student from rural North Carolina,” Troy said. “When I arrived on campus my first year, I found it difficult to navigate a large campus and knew very little about the resources available to me. I owe my success to the faculty and staff who chose to mentor me. They introduced me to opportunities, resources, and experiences that would benefit me in the future. They taught me how to effectively self-advocate and encouraged me to get involved in opportunities both on and off campus. I continue to pay it forward to first-generation college students through my work.”
She added, “I look forward to welcoming and advocating for our first-generation college students at Georgia Tech and collaborating with various departments to create programming that will support them.
Complete College Georgia & Retention is a unit within the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE). Learn more about OUE by following @gtoue on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.