Abington celebrates first-generation college students and faculty, staff mentors

Penn State Abington students, faculty, and staff celebrate their status as first generation college students

Penn State Abington students and their faculty and staff mentors marked First Generation Celebration Day on Nov. 8.

Credit: Onyx Clemons

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington marked national First Generation Celebration Day on Nov. 8. Almost half of Abington students identify as the first in their family to attend college in the United States, and this fall, 132 students enrolled in the campus' "I’m First" support program along with 53 faculty and staff mentors.  

At an event in the Lares Building, students described pressure from their families to succeed and shared the difficulties they've faced as first-generation students, including completing applications for admission and financial aid.  

“I needed help filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and I had to ask my neighbors for help. I tried to figure out all of the letters and forms, and my mom tried to help me. It was hard for both of us,” one student said. 

Students praised the I’m First mentors for encouraging them to join clubs and organizations and to visit the Center for Student Achievement if they need academic support.  

“This semester, I maintained a good GPA, committed to the undergraduate research program, and got a job related to my career,” a student shared. 

Several students and mentors received awards: 

  • Outstanding First-Gen Students: Emmanuel Adjetey, Karissa Aviles and Tajah Green 

  • Outstanding Faculty Mentor: Melvin Gupton, associate teaching professor of corporate communication

  • Outstanding Staff Mentor: Catia Rembert, program coordinator, student diversity, equity and inclusion 

  • Outstanding Alumni Mentor: Quintara Tucker, Class of 2015 

The Student Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coordinates a robust support program for first-generation students that includes a variety of resources, a match with a faculty or staff mentor who was a first-generation college student, and connections with services on and off campus. Students enrolled in the I’m First program are eligible to be inducted into Alpha Alpha Alpha National Honor Society for First Generation Students. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, accelerated master's degrees, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.