First-Gen Forward Designation
Two years after Pitt Community College was selected to join the Center for First-Generation Student Success’s inaugural First Forward cohort, the college has received the organization’s “advisory institution” designation.
The Center—an initiative of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation—recently announced Pitt as one of 12 colleges to earn the elevated status for its efforts to improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation college students, who are the first members of their families to attend college. As a result, PCC will receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources.
“The Center is so pleased to acknowledge Pitt Community College as a First-Gen Forward Advisory Institution,” said Sarah E. Whitley, Assistant Vice President of the Center for First-Generation Student Success. “Pitt Community College continues to be a leader in the field, and we look forward to working closely with them as they support their respective regional community.”
As an “advisory institution,” select PCC faculty and staff will have multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions that are creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. PCC and other selected institutions participated in a virtual 2021-22 First-Gen Forward Workshop on Wednesday and will also take part in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, annual reporting, and more.
“The First-Gen Forward Advisory designation is an exciting opportunity for Pitt Community College, and their leadership support within the regional community will be a great benefit to other First-Gen Forward Institutions,” said NASPA President and CEO Kevin Kruger. “It is so fulfilling to see a groundswell of activity across the First-Gen Forward cohorts and know Pitt Community College will be a significant contributor.”
PCC Director of TRiO Programs Travis Kinsey said a key component of advisory status involves leading First Forward institutions from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Community in advancing outcomes and experiences of first-generation students at their respective schools. The community, he said, is comprised of Averett, East Carolina, Elon, and George Mason universities, the University of Lynchburg, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“We are excited to share our knowledge with other institutions seeking to scale academic and student support offerings and look forward to serving as a thought leader for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Community,” Kinsey said.
PCC’s emphasis on serving first-generation students is exemplified by its “IamFirstGen Campaign.” Launched in August 2018, the initiative involves TRiO’s Student Support Services and Educational Opportunity Center programs collaborating with the college’s Title III Grant project to increase awareness of first-generation college students and make them feel at home on campus.
Kinsey says the campaign strives to build a stronger first-generation campus community at Pitt through academic and social support, advocacy, and leadership development.
“It is an honor to have the leadership of Pitt Community College’s TRiO program to solidify the college’s place as a true champion in the work for first-generation students—not just on our campus, but for community colleges nationwide,” said Jasmin Spain, PCC Assistant Vice President of Student Support. “We look forward to being the resource that other institutions look to for direction, support, and partnership.”
In 2019, PCC was one of 80 colleges and universities chosen for the inaugural First Forward cohort. It was one of just three community colleges in the nation to be included in the cohort and one of two higher education institutions in North Carolina, along with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.