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SLU Celebrating First-Generation Billikens With Event at Clock Tower

by Joe Barker on 11/04/2021


SLU is celebrating Billikens first-generation college students as part of the National First-Generation College Celebration

The celebration will be Monday, Nov. 8. Student Development and the Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement will be at the Lipic Clock Tower Plaza from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with free T-shirts, giveaways, a photo booth, music, snacks, and some activities. 


Saint Louis University strives to support first-generation college students throughout their college journeys through programming like Billiken’s First Chapter, which provides wraparound services and fosters a sense of community, welcoming, and belonging. 

SLU has hundreds of faculty and staff who were originally first-generation students — first-generation students make up all levels of University leadership — including President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., Provost Michael Lewis, Ph.D., and several trustees, vice presidents, deans and department chairs.

First generation students are the first in their immediate families to attend college, sometimes along with other siblings. Definitions of what it means to be a "1st Gen" student vary, but Saint Louis University takes an inclusive approach to the term. SLU includes students who may be the first members of their immediate families to attend college, students who may have parents who had some college but did not complete a degree or students who may self-identify as not having prior knowledge of or exposure to higher education institutions.

“First-generation students display bravery and courage to be the first in their family to attend college — they are trail blazers,” said Amber Johnson, Ph.D., interim vice president for diversity and community engagement. “They open up pathways and inspire their younger siblings and family members.”

According to EAB, a consulting firm specializing in educational institutions, one-third of undergraduate college students identify as first-generation and 61% of first-generation college students choose careers that give back to their communities.

SLU students can get involved with the celebration by stopping by the clock tower or highlighting their own first-generation story on social media by use the hashtags #CelebrateFirstGen, #SaintLouisU and #SaintLouisUniversity.