First-generation students rely on determination, campus resources, and loved ones to succeed at college
In 2022, the University of by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and The Suder Foundation, for its efforts to improve access to students who are among the first in their families to attend college. Illinois was named a First- gen Forward institution
on campus and pursuing a degree. A make or break moment Itzel Rivera is soon to be the first person in her extended family to graduate from college. Given that neither of her parents attended school past the sixth grade, her attendance at the University of Illinois was unlikely.
their families at home. Realizing what they missed, they made education a priority for Rivera and her two sisters and brother. That’s why, after living most of her life in California, she moved to the Midwest for college. She attended Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois, where a professor inspired her to major in political science when she transferred to the University of Illinois. She is also minoring in anthropology and Latina/Latino studies. While she was determined to work hard, Rivera said that coming from a different culture made some things more difficult.
Rivera’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico before she was born. Both of them had to leave
A large number of those efforts occur at the College of LAS, which currently enrolls roughly 1,500 first-generation students. We asked a few of them to share their stories about arriving
school early to help
16 / Spring 2023
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