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First-Gen Photo booth 2

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, celebrated first-generation students, faculty, and staff last week, November 9–13, as part of First-Generation Celebration Week, a national week of recognition where colleges and universities across the country applaud first-generation students for their efforts and offer support for their continued success.

Hosted by the Division of Student Success, the Division of Diversity and Engagement, and other campus partners, First-Generation Celebration Week engaged the entire campus community. The celebration included educational trivia, grab-and-go lunches, a movie night, a Veterans Day celebration, and real talk sessions, at which first-gen students could connect with other first-gen faculty and staff in a safe space to ask questions and build relationships.

Avery Vantrease, a junior first-generation student from Hendersonville, Tennessee, enjoyed connecting with other students like her during the celebration. She said being a first-generation college student can be challenging because it’s easy to feel pressured to excel or overachieve. But thankfully, Vantrease has found mentors and support through her advisors and the Center for Career Development and Academic Exploration.

“Being a first-gen student builds so much character, and there are so many students, staff, and faculty here with incredible stories about how passionate they have been in pursuing higher education,” said Vantrease. “I’m really thankful for all the support I’ve gotten since day one, all the way back to when I was only a tiny freshman. We have so many people here that truly care and want to see you succeed.”

Take a look back at some of the highlights from the week.