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Network First-Gen

Save the date – first gen appreciation week 2022

Come one, come all for First Gen Celebration 2022! In conjunction with National First Gen Day on November 8th, the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is hosting a week of events to celebrate and honor our first-generation college student community here at Vanderbilt. From November 3-11, we are hosting a series of virtual and in-person events open to students, faculty, staff and post-docs from VU. To register for any of the offered events, please RSVP using this form by November 2nd! Thanks to our student organization sponsors, FirstVU and QuestBridge Vanderbilt, for their support.

Schedule of Events:

Thursday, November 3rd at 2pm CDT
Graduating First-Gen and Becoming a Graduate Student: First-Generation Student Panel
Location: Sarratt 189


Friday, November 4th at 2pm CDT – Monday, November 7th at 2pm CST
Digital Scavenger Hunt for First-Generation Students
Location: Online


Tuesday, November 8th, from 4:30-6pm CST
National First-Gen Day Student/Faculty/Staff Networking Reception
Location: Multicultural Community Space


Thursday, November 10th at 12pm CST
Straddling Class in the Academy: Discussing the First-Gen Identity
Location: Online (via Zoom)


Friday, November 11th, from 5:30-7pmCST
Paint and Sip
Location: 19th and Grand Building

congrats to our 2022 network first gen graduates

Video Recording of the 2022 Network First Gen Graduate Recognition Ceremony Keynote Speaker, Toby Irenstain (via Zoom)

Reflections from Dr. Susan Sutton, co-advisor for FirstVU

Reflections from Abigail Forsythe, outgoing President for FirstVU

What is a First-Generation Student?

While the term “first-generation” may seem self-explanatory, its nuance means defining it can be difficult. As an institution, Vanderbilt adheres to the definition of first-generation students set by Federal guidelines, defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965. That definition is as follows:

  • a. An individual both of whose parents did not complete a baccalaureate degree; or
  • b. In the case of any individual who regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, an individual whose only such parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree.

FirstVU and Network First-Gen realize that holding the identity of a first-generation student is complex. First-generation students are academically skilled and contribute greatly to the campus community; it is the lack of critical cultural capital necessary to navigate the “hidden curriculum” of universities and colleges successfully that impact first-generation students adversely. Students with one (or more) parent(s) or guardian(s) that have completed a 4-year institution often have greater sources of support in understanding how to traverse the policies, procedures, jargon, and expectations of collegiate life. In order to open up opportunities for additional support for students that are first-generation but do not fully meet the federal guidelines to qualify as a first-generation student, FirstVU and Network First-Gen have compiled a list of resources to aid in the success of first-generation students. Moreover, we provide our own definition of first-generation Students below, one that hopefully encompasses the entire campus community.

First-Generation students are students whose in-home parent(s) or guardian(s) did not graduate from a 4-year U.S. university; this can manifest as:

  • i.Students whose in-home parent(s) or guardian(s) have a high school education or less.
  • ii. Students whose in-home parent(s) or guardian(s) only attended a 2-year higher education institution whether in the US or abroad.
First-Generation Student Attributes

First-Generation students are more likely to exhibit the following traits:

  • Resilience
  • Ingenuity
  • Drive
  • Dedication
  • Passion
  • Strong Work Ethics
  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Independence
  • Present-oriented instead of future-oriented

Read more:


You may encounter a number of experiences that are common to First-Generation Students. We have prepared a list of resources to guide you through these potential challenges.

Upcoming Events

Check back in later to learn more about events scheduled for the 2022-2023 academic year!

Choosing a Major

You may need to click through departments in some links to find the Department Chair.

Financial Confidence
  • Dore Money $marts offers a free online tool called GradReady that has short lessons on budgeting, debt management, banking, and other topics.
  • HireADore helps locate open work-study and/or regular job positions on or near campus.
  • Experience Vanderbilt provides up to $500 for student activities.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of getting to know your financial advisor. The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarship offers individual appointments and workshops on budgeting, preparing financial aid applications, and loan repayment.
  • More money for books, or other expenses if they exceed expected costs.
  • Ask for a health insurance waiver if the cost would be financially straining.
Academic Readiness
Getting Involved in Student Organizations




Finding Work

Work-Life School Resources

Remote work opportunities:

Learning Campus Culture
Additional Resources: