Arcadia’s First-Generation College Students Celebrated on Nov. 8
November 8 marks the First-Generation College Celebration, observed nationally in honor of the signing of the 1965 Higher Education Act. The Higher Education Act created federal grants and loan programs to help level the playing field for Americans from minority and low-income backgrounds.
At Arcadia, one out of every three students–and 38 percent of current first-years–self-identifies as first-generation. You can also find first-gens among the University’s faculty, staff, and administration.
For Jennifer Jimenez ’26, a Graphic Design major from Norristown, Pa., being the first in her family to attend college was a responsibility she did not take lightly.
“At first I felt pressured because I was the only one that actually was going to go away from my family for a while because of studies and classes,” she said. “Now I just feel very happy that I’m able to do this for my family. That’s one of the reasons why I’m here. I want to help out to do everything that my family couldn’t do, and it feels great because I feel like I accomplished that, and I’m going to accomplish more to help out everybody that I love and care for.”
English major Faheiim Cooper ’26 from Philadelphia also sometimes feels burdened by being a first-generation student.
“All my life I’ve been pushed to like, ‘You gotta be a college student, you gotta be a college student,’ and I never really viewed school as a very difficult thing. I just had to be very…I don’t know how to describe it…on top of it. But being a first-generation college student, I have a lot of pressure. And sometimes it gets to me, and sometimes it doesn’t. I think if you can balance your time, and if you mix fun and work to make sure you get everything done, it can be very rewarding and not very stressful.”
Recognizing the added stress that first-gen students face, the Office of Career Education has an online community designed specifically for them, containing resources, advice, and opportunities for students of similar backgrounds.
The Office of Financial Aid will mark the Nov. 8 celebration with snacks for first-generation students who stop by.