Skip to main content
MenuSearch & Directory

First Generation Students

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.

We include 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 Buttons
Support For 1st-Gen Students

If you are a 1st-Gen student, you have a lot of company at SLU. In fall 2019, 12.4% of SLU students were first-generation college students. Additionally, there are hundreds of faculty and staff on campus who also were 1st-Gen college students.

First-generation college students are an asset to the SLU community. This initiative is to help raise the visibility of the growing population in higher education, celebrate the intersectionality among our students and advocate for student readiness and success through programs aimed to tap into the 1st Gen student potential.

National First-Generation College Student Celebration Day

November 8 was selected as the date for the annual National First-Generation College Celebration Day to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. 

Like other hallmark legislation of that era, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, HEA was intended to expand opportunities that had historically been denied to Americans from minority and low-income backgrounds. In addition to creating federal grants and loan programs to help students finance their educations, the legislation made key investments in institutions of higher education.

Additionally, HEA ushered in programs like the Federal TRIO programs, necessary for postsecondary access, retention and completion for low-income, potential first-generation college graduates.

Who is a first-generation student? At SLU, many of your professors, deans and other University leaders are also the first in their families to graduate college. Learn more. 

Meet 1st-Gen Students at SLU

Katie Velazquez

Katie Velazquez She/Her/Hers
Physical Therapy Major

"The resource that has been most helpful for me at SLU has been the TRIO program, which provides academic and financial resources for 1st Gen students and others."

Kelsey Fraley

Kelsey FraleyShe/Her/Hers
Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin
Neuroscience Major

"My mom told me I could do anything, as long as I put in the hard, I'm doing this for her."

Sara McMullin

Sara McMullinShe/Her/Hers
St. Louis
Ph.D. Candidate in Cognitive Neuroscience

"I'm proud to be a 1st-Gen student because I bring a different perspective into academia and research, and science overall."

Eshu Senthil

Eshu SenthilShe/Her/Hers or They/Them
Tamil Nadu, India
Biology Major 

"I consider my friends and identity and cultural groups I belong to my most valuable resources at SLU."

Dan O'Connell

Dan O'ConnellHe/Him/His
Geneva, Illinois
Psychology Major

"I reached out to professors who know a lot about their fields to find out what jobs lead from those fields."

Lydia Bullock

Lydia Bullock She/Her/Hers
Jackson, Tennessee
Doctoral Candidate in Higher Ed Administration

"I'm really proud of being 1st-Gen three times...for my undergrad, masters and soon...doctorate!"

Tools for 1st-Gen Success

Click on each of the below topics for a list of useful links.

First-Generation Faculty and Staff: What I Wish I’d Known

In the fall of 2019, more than 400 SLU faculty, staff, and students shared their experiences and advice for first-gen students through a campus-wide survey. Among other things, respondents were asked to complete this sentence: “When I first started college, I wish someone had told me . . . .”

Here are just a few of the things they had to say:

Academic Success Resources
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask questions, even if you're worried you'll look dumb.
  • Don't let anyone tell you that university is too hard, you CAN do it! It's hard and trying ... but in the end, it's worth it.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk with the faculty. They can be a tremendous resource.
  • You may not be able to go to your parents for academic help, but there’s so many other resources for you to further your learning and get the degree you’re looking for. Take full advantage of all the resources available in the Student Success Center, the library, their professors, advisers, etc.
  • Take the time to get and stay organized and don't procrastinate!
  • Find a mentor, someone who can help you navigate the bigger picture than what classes to take next. Make friends with upper-classmen who can show you the important things that lead to academic success. College counselors and faculty don’t really explain how to manage an academic load in college.
Social Involvement
  • Find friends within your major or classes quickly, because they can be a really good support system, not only for homework, but personal stuff too.
  • Get involved. School is important, but so is developing a life and establishing relationships. I would strongly suggest getting involved in interest groups, social groups and campus clubs. The connections you make in college last a lifetime.