Montevallo celebrates first-generation college students

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The University of Montevallo celebrated its students, faculty and staff who are the first in their families to attend college and highlighted the programs supporting them during a First-Generation Student Celebration on Friday, Nov. 8.

Montevallo’s Falcon Success Center, TRIO Student Support Services and TRIO McNair Scholars Program hosted the daylong celebration at multiple locations on campus.

“I am very proud of the University family’s celebration of our first-generation students. The deep commitment our faculty and staff have toward individual student success, our small class sizes and institutional values combine to make Montevallo the ideal place for first-generation students to prepare for their lives and careers,” said Dr. John W. Stewart III, UM president. “As a first-generation student myself, I know firsthand how transformative college can be to these students.”

After a welcoming ceremony in Anna Irvin Dining Hall, the event featured a guest panel including Dr. Sherry Ford, professor of communication studies; Dr. Ray Ozley, professor of communication studies; UM counselor Nicole Mullis; Bibb County Career Academy Career and Technical Coach Gabby Pringle; UM graduate student Bria Hines and Birmingham Airport Authority Senior Marketing Specialist Jacob Guyton.

During lunch, Rev. Mike Jones provided a keynote address touting the impact first-generation college students have on the world, followed by afternoon breakout sessions hosted by Dr. Tiffany Wang, associate professor of communication studies; Dr. Brendan Beal, assistant professor of social work; and UM social work major Jameka Greer.

An afternoon awards ceremony honored several individuals for their outstanding contributions and achievements as first-generation college students:

Faculty award – Dr. Stephen Parker

Staff award – Kathy Bailey

Student award – Marcos Lopez

Alumni award – Gabrielle Pringle

Community award – Rev. Mike Jones

“Today, we are taking time to pause and really recognize the contributions of first-generation faculty, staff and students here at the University of Montevallo,” said Dr. Qshequilla Mitchell, director of the TRIO McNair Scholars Program. “We want to celebrate their accomplishments across the campus community and identify resources that are priming them for success at all levels. I am honored and proud to be at a University with such a strong institutional commitment to first-generation students.”