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A hot chocolate bar, pizza at the Rock, and specially designed T-shirts are all part of UT’s celebration of National First-Generation College Student Day today.

UT is participating in the nationwide event with a full slate of activities highlighting the success of first-generation students and bringing attention to the support and resources available to them. Current first-generation students, as well as faculty and staff who were first-generation students, have been invited to wear “First Gen” lapel pins and T-shirts.

Nearly a quarter of UT’s undergraduate students are first-generation, meaning their parents do not have a four-year degree. A number of faculty and staff are also first-generation students—including Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis, who will participate in today’s celebration at the Rock.

“First-generation college students today are much like me when I was beginning my education,” Davis said. “They may not have the same support as a second- or third-generation student, so the challenges are very real. I want our first-generation students to know that we are committed to helping them succeed here at UT.”

UT is looking to bolster its support for first-generation students, including expansion of its UT LEAD program. Currently, more than 700 freshmen are in the program and nearly all are first-generation students, said Karen Sullivan-Vance, associate vice provost for student success.

“First-generation status isn’t something you can see on someone, and I want first-generation students to know the feelings that they have are normal,” Sullivan-Vance said. “I want them to know they’re not alone.”

For a full list of today’s events visit the Student Success Center website.