First generation college students represent an important aspect of Colorado State University’s access mission, a historical area of emphasis and pride, and a growing demographic group, which we must serve more effectively if we are to fulfill our mission as a land grant university.

As one of the first major universities in the country to recognize the needs of first generation students, CSU created the First Generation Award in 1984. Since then, hundreds of students have successfully completed their education and have moved on to become leaders in every aspect of society. CSU’s commitment continues as we work with schools across the state that educate large numbers of first generation students.

One of the challenges faced by first generation students is the lack of role models who can help provide both inspiration and confidence that success is possible, despite a sometimes new and daunting environment. For these students, the role models will, by definition, need to come from outside the family. Among our faculty are many who were the first in their family to receive a college education.

In December 2008, the Alliance High School Partnership program launched its First Generation Faculty Project. Since then, a committee has been formed of First Generation faculty who would like to serve as role models for our first generation students and also to students who have yet to consider the pursuit of education beyond high school.

In 2009, first generation CSU faculty shared their personal and inspirational stories during six radio ads that aired in Southern Colorado in both English and Spanish. We’re anticipating another set of ads to be produced in the fall.

Several first generation faculty shared their stories to be posted here. They told anecdotes of their college experience – some humorous, some inspirational, some both. They told their “success stories” and how their lives have been changed immeasurably by obtaining a college education and beyond. And they provided advice for first generation students and their families. It is our hope that their accomplishments can serve as a springboard to many others.

There are many ways you can help – learn more here. Or contact Mary Ontiveros, Vice President for Diversity, at:, 492-4082.

Thank you for your efforts in helping CSU fulfill its mission, for providing role models for CSU students, and for helping us “spread the word” to our Alliance partner high school students that college is within their reach.