Join campus effort to support first-gen college students, campus community

First-gen group
Jaye Padgett, left, Veronica Terriquez, middle, and Rebecca Covarrubias are all first-gen faculty at UC Santa Cruz. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)
Angela Steele
First-gen staff member Angela Rossi-Steele, former Staff Advisory Board chair and Information Technology Services manager. (Photo by Tristan Carkeet)

UC Santa Cruz is joining in the systemwide first-gen initiative in an effort to support, connect, and bring visibility to first-generation undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty.

“Our goal is to create a welcoming and supportive campus environment for all of our students,” said Chancellor George Blumenthal. “It’s critical for us to address the challenges our first-gen students face and provide more opportunities for their success. As a first-gen myself, I understand how difficult the transition can be for incoming and transfer students.”

Faculty, professional staff and graduate students are invited to participate in the campaign. Those who are the first in their generation to obtain a 4-year college or university degree can sign up to receive a first-gen college grad t-shirt.

Faculty, professional staff, and graduate students who are not first-generation, but want to support the campaign can sign up to receive a first-gen supporter button.

The campaign has several events planned in the coming weeks:

  • Facebook Live Q&A (4 p.m., Sept. 5): Tune in for a conversation with first-gen faculty, alumni, and undergraduate students, including UC Santa Cruz Professor Rebecca Covarrubias and psychology undergraduate student, Julisa Lopez. Visit
  • Welcome Week 2017 (Sept 24–28): Wear your T-shirts and buttons to welcome incoming and returning students!
  • First-gen Rally at OPERS Fall Fest (4 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 26): Join us to officially kick-off the first-gen initiative and hear reflections and stories from Vice Provost for Student Success Jaye Padgett, Professor Rebecca Covarrubias, and others.
  • Tell your story and use the hashtag #FirstGenUCSC on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and Instagram.

As part of this new initiative, a website ( has been launched and includes resources and profiles of UC Santa Cruz faculty, staff, and graduate students, sharing their stories and offering advice for first-gen students.

Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp is one person featured. As a first-generation college graduate, Tromp notes she developed a creative resiliency as she worked three jobs to afford college.

“I had seen people face enormous challenges and pick themselves up, dust off, and carry on,” Tromp said. “I had to do that in terms of a whole range of challenges, even intellectual ones.”

The initiative’s goals include fostering a campus climate that welcomes first-generation students and helps them succeed, as well as creating opportunities for campus offices to develop ways to better support first-generation students.

"By drawing attention to the shared identities among students, staff, and faculty we send a clear message that we want you here, you belong here, and you will succeed,” Rebecca Covarrubias, an assistant professor in the psychology department and faculty director for the program.

For more information about this effort, visit the website or contact organizers at Read more about the UC systemwide initiative.