Social work

The Elm | UMB and School of Social Work Receive First Generation Forward Designation

UMB and School of Social Work Receive First Generation Forward Designation

The designation is a national honor for commitment to first-generation student success.

The Center for First Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Higher Education Student Affairs Administrators and the Suder Foundation, announced this year that the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is part of the 2022-23 first-generation Forward cohort. The First-gen Forward designation recognizes higher education institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing first-generation student outcomes. Selected institutions benefit from professional development, community development experiences, and a first look at the center’s research and resources.

“The Center is pleased to welcome the University of Maryland, Baltimore to the 2022-23 first-generation Forward cohort. Throughout the application process, it was evident that UMB was not only taking steps to serve first-generation students, but was prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster a environment of success for this important population,” said Dr. Sarah. E. Whitley, Assistant Vice President, Center for First Generation Student Success. This designation was awarded based on the collaborative efforts and programming of the University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) and the UMB Intercultural Center.

What does it mean to be a first generation student?

First-generation students are often defined as those whose parents or guardians did not complete a four-year degree. First-generation graduate students are former first-generation undergraduates who have progressed to an advanced degree. However, at UMB we understand that there are different definitions of what it means to be first generation. If you feel connected to this identity, we invite you to consult our resources and participate in our upcoming events.

Being a first-generation student can be a source of great pride, but being the first in your family to navigate higher education can also be confusing and isolating. Creating accessible and inclusive educational environments for first-generation students is key to ensuring that all UMB students feel welcomed and supported.

Shauna Griffin and Stenie Simon know firsthand the difficulties of navigating graduate school as first-generation students. Both in their final year at UMSSW, they aim to help expand programming focused on the first generation by hosting social events and opportunities to connect virtually. Griffin attended the NASPA First-generation Student Success Conference in 2022. She says, “It is an honor to be part of this initiative and the First-gen Forward team! I was able to connect with professionals from universities across the country who are passionate about first-generation students establishing a sense of community on their campuses. I’ve connected UMB graduates with first-generation students looking for mentorship, and I’ve been overwhelmed by their enthusiasm to give back to others once in their place. My hope is to see the first-generation UMB community grow to eventually create its own alumni chapter where first-generation professionals can continue to network.

What does this mean for the University of Maryland, Baltimore?

As an advanced first-generation institution, UMB and UMSSW representatives will have multiple opportunities to engage with peer institutions that are also creating environments that enhance first-generation student experiences and outcomes. . Representatives attended the first generation Forward workshop in June 2022 and will continue to participate in monthly calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reports and more throughout the year. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory Leadership designation.

At UMB, the Intercultural Center for Student Affairs and UMSSW continue to offer programs and services that support first-generation students. Through its First Generation Student Success Program (FGSP), UMSSW has launched several initiatives to build community among their school’s first generation students, including a physical lounge where first generation students and friends can connect, and community building circles where students can develop a sense of belonging and share resources. Last year, the Intercultural Center offered a series of programs, including a First Generation panel at UMB, a space for reflection for first generation students and a virtual community social hour. There are also relevant resources on the center’s website.

With this designation, UMB will step up its efforts to recognize and center the needs of first-generation students, staff, and faculty on campus. These efforts include the upcoming First Generation Student Celebration Week.

First Generation Student Celebration Week

Every year, hundreds of institutions across the country celebrate first-generation students on November 8. First Generation College Celebration Day is an opportunity to honor the contributions of first generation students while pledging to support the success of those who are first in their families to earn four-year degrees and colleges. higher degrees.

At UMB, UMSSW and the Intercultural Center will host a series of events throughout the week to raise awareness of first-generation identity and celebrate first-generation students, including a social hour and celebration at the UMSSW. Learn more about the events and how to register here.

The First Generation Advanced Designation is a collaboration between UMSSW and the Cross-Cultural Center, but all seven schools and programs are welcome to participate. If your school or program is interested in participating, please contact Associate Dean Dawn Shafer ([email protected]) and Associate Director of the Intercultural Center Rosemary Ferreira ([email protected]).

To learn more about First Generation efforts at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, visit the First Generation Student Resources webpage or the First Generation Student Success Program (FGSP) – University of Maryland, Baltimore (


The center is the premier source of evidence-based practice, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance first-generation student success. Based in Washington, DC, the center aims to recognize the intersectional experiences of first-generation college students. It provides an outlet to share cutting-edge research and current media conversations, opportunities for engagement through e-learning, conferences and events, and access to a wealth of programs and services aimed at improving first generation initiatives in higher education.


NASPA is a member-centric association that supports a diverse and passionate network of 15,000 professionals and 1,200 institutions worldwide. It is the professional home for the field of student affairs and is dedicated to cultivating student success in conjunction with the missions of its Institutional Members, a network of colleges and universities representing all sectors of higher education.