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First-generation students, faculty and staff gather to leave their handprints on the Rock on Nov. 6, 2019. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee.

A movie night, resource fair, painting the Rock and a celebration with the Lady Vols basketball team are just some of the events taking place during the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s fifth annual First-Generation Student Celebration Week Nov. 7-11. The event is part of a nationwide initiative to recognize the success of first-generation students and highlight the support and resources available to them.

Nearly a quarter of UT’s undergraduate students are first generation, meaning their parents do not have a four-year degree. Current first-generation students, as well as faculty and staff who were first-generation students, will wear specially designed “First-Gen” T-shirts and lapel pins to celebrate the week.

“We are extremely excited to host our 5th annual First-Generation Student Celebration Week. This week offers a series of engaging events where first-generation faculty, staff and supporters come together to show our collective support in celebration of the first-generation trailblazers in our Volunteer community,” said Talisha Adams, director of first-generation initiatives. “We take extreme pride in the value that all first-gen Vols bring to the campus. This week is another opportunity for us to echo that on Rocky Top, our first-gen Vols are first but never alone.”

In 2019, UT was designated a First Forward institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success. The designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students.

A full list of events is available on the Division of Student Success website.


Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,​