first-gen /fərst•jen/ (n):
a college student who is the first in their family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree
UAF is #FirstGenForward
UAF has been recognized by NASPA and the Center for First-generation Student Success as a First-gen Forward institution. UAF received the First-gen Forward designation in recognition of the institution’s demonstrated commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes for first-generation college students -- students who are the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree. UAF is the only university in Alaska to achieve this honor and joins an elite group of just 157 universities nationwide to earn the First-Gen Forward designation.
The First-Gen Forward Mentorship Program connects first-gen students with first-gen
UAF faculty or staff who can help students navigate college. Through sharing experience
and knowledge, mentors and mentees are encouraged to build lasting relationships.
SSS and NDAC will offer a series of formal mentorship opportunities and mentors and
mentees are encouraged to meet up outside of these activities as well.
The mission of the First-Gen Forward Mentorship Program is to create supportive one-on-one mentoring relationships for first-generation students to enhance student success.
Through one-on-one mentorship and facilitated activities, the First-Gen Forward Mentorship Program seeks to develop students in the following:
- Academic engagement
- Career preparation
- Co-curricular involvement
- Value-based goal setting
- Self-efficacy and sense of belonging
Now recruiting mentors!
First-gen faculty and staff are invited to apply to become mentors for the 2020-21 academic year. Mentors will receive training, a 1st Gen AK button and will be invited to special mentor/mentee events during the 2020-21 academic year.
Who are mentors?
First-Gen Forward Mentors are members of the UAF community who identify as first-gen who volunteer to share their knowledge and experience with first-generation students with similar identities, academic, research, or creative interests. Mentors may be staff, faculty, administrators and in some cases, graduate students or upper-class undergraduates.
First-Gen Forward Mentors will:
- Attend mentor training
- Attend kickoff meeting
- Connect with mentees once per month
- Attend closing celebration
- Act as an advocate for first-gen students
Mentors can expect to spend 2-4 hours per month on activities related to the First-Gen Forward Mentorship Program.
Some perks include but are not limited to:
- Tickets to events
- Coffee cards
- First-Gen swag
- Professional development
- The opportunity to make an impact in a student’s life
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will this program take up a lot of my time? Is it a long-term commitment?
A: The level of involvement is determined by the mentor's time availability and the nature of the mentor/mentee relationship. We do recommend frequent contact for a successful relationship and ask that you commit to a minimum of one e-mail or phone call every month. Mentors and students are matched for the academic year with the option to continue the relationship during the summer or be matched with someone new in the fall.
Q: What type of activity is conducive to establishing a good mentor/mentee relationship?
A: Consistent communication is key. Workplace visits, resume review, informational mock interviews, conversations about life after college, or attending a school event are also appropriate activities that help establish the mentor/mentee relationship.
Q: Who makes the initial contact?
A: Students are encouraged to make the first contact, but both mentors and mentees are asked to contact each other as soon as contact information is made available.
Q: How are students matched with mentors?
A: Mentors are matched based on their profiles. Student participation is on a first-come, first-served basis. Although we anticipate all mentors being matched, we cannot guarantee that a match will take place.
Q: Can I participate in the mentoring program even though I don't work/live close to UAF?
A: Yes, you can be a mentor even if you do not live or work close to UAF, or if you have a hectic travel schedule, as long as you and your mentee remain committed to the relationship and maintain contact via e-mail, video conference, and/or phone.
Q: What are Student Support Services and NDAC’s’ role in the Mentor Program?
A: SSS and NDAC provide the opportunity for mentors and students to interact with each other. Guidelines for the program and mentor/mentee matches are set through these offices, and the program administrator organizes the first reception where mentors and mentees get a chance to meet. Problems and concerns should be directed to the program administrator. The structure of the relationship and frequency of interaction is left to the mentor/mentee team to accommodate individual preferences and a variety of mentoring needs.
Q: Whom can I contact if I have any questions?
A: Please feel free to contact Ronnie Houchin in the Center for Student Engagement at 907-474-5153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
First-gen students are an important part of the UAF community: over 50% of UAF students are first-gen. In order to celebrate and support first-gen students, Student Support Services and the Nanook Diversity and Action Center have partnered on the 1st Gen AK initiative which features the following events and programs:
Held during New Student Orientation, the First-Generation Breakfast connects first-gen students and their families with first-gen faculty, staff and administrators. This free event for new students introduces first-gen students to the community of support for first-gen students at UAF.
National First-Generation College Student Day
The National First-Generation College Celebration, observed annually on November 8, honors the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Much like other hallmark legislation of that era, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, The Higher Education Act was intended to help level a playing field that for too long had been weighed against Americans from minority and low-income backgrounds. UAF recognizes National First-Generation College Student Day with a panel of first-gen faculty and staff speaking about their experiences as first-gen students.
First-Generation Cording Ceremony
During the First-Generation Cording Ceremony each spring, we celebrate the achievements of first-gen students along with faculty, staff and graduating first-gen students’ friends and families. First-gen graduates are given a teal honor cord to wear during UAF’s commencement ceremony to signify that they are the first in their family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.