In recognition of thousands of first generation students at USC, the First Generation Plus Success Center (FG+SC) launched several events and resources this week.
The FG+SC, which was established this fall following President Carol Folt’s diversity initiatives, organized the week’s events. These include diversity programs, an alumni panel, social events and financial literacy programs.
Folt said that there are nearly 16,000 students who can find resources at the center. It offers services such as advising, peer mentorship, financial aid and scholarships.
“The university needs first generation voices and perspectives to help the university thrive,” Folt said at the First Generation Student Week kickoff. “It’s important that we find times to celebrate the rituals of coming together because they reinforce our determination to be part of a community.”
USC reported that first generation students comprise 20% of the entire undergraduate population, and 22% of the enrolled class of 2024. The school estimates that 29% of transfer students are also first generation.
Queena Hoang, coordinator for the First Generation Plus Success Center, said that this week is meant to “demonstrate the intersectionality and the diversity” of first-generation students and show them that resources are available.
Because the center opened in August, Hoang said that students and faculty are still discovering its opportunities and mission.
“I hope that they see that we support them and that there are people invested in their success and their futures and that they’re not alone in this process,” Hoang said. “They belong and we are here to support their journeys ... there’s not one pathway to succeed and thrive at USC.”
The FG+SC will have six more events this week on Zoom. This includes a First-Generation Alumni Panel on Tuesday, a first-generation and LGBTQ+ Sack Lunch on Wednesday and a conversation on what it means to be a first-generation and Black student on Thursday.
Emily Donahue, a senior studying pharmacology and a first-gen student, started advocating for a first generation center and events like these two years ago. She said it came from experiencing gaps in USC’s first generation community. Along with USG and Emily Johnson, a junior majoring in french and law, history, and culture, Donahue organized the FG+SC proposal.
“I’m hoping that this center serves as just a way to affirm the first-gen identity because we are resilient,” Donahue said at the kickoff. “We are determined and we have a skill set that not every student has.”
Hoang said ultimately, the week is meant for everyone to acknowledge and recognize first-generation students and their achievements.
“[It’s] to celebrate their identities, to celebrate how proud the institution is, to have them here at USC, to let students know that we are proud of them for being here,” Hoang said. “It’s a celebratory week for sure.”