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Washington State University
Washington State University Office of the Provost

National First-Generation Celebration

Office of Academic Engagement | November 2 – November 9, 2020

For the past four years, institutions from across the nation have celebrated first-generation students, faculty, and staff on November 8 to highlight the important contributions made within the campus communities. At many institutions, November 8 events have grown to week-long, or even month-long celebrations. Washington State University is joining the national effort to celebrate the accomplishments and legacy of first-gen individuals across the WSU-System. Specially, Washington State University would like to showcase ways in which first gen individuals have achieved academic success, and how others have supported the academic achievement of first gen students. Through these events, we want to celebrate but also provide best practices for students, faculty and staff to foster academic achievement for first-gen individuals.

Celebrate First Generation Pin on Man in Mask


If you are a Student, Faculty or Staff who is a First Generation Student or would like to express your support for first-gen students, sign-up for the National First-Generation Celebration!

When you register for the Celebration Social Media Campaign, you will recieve a #CELEBRATEFIRSTGEN lapel pin!
Post a picture of you wearing your Pin and use the hashtags: #WSU #CelebrateFirstGen.

Register & Request a Pin


WSU first‑generation students celebrated at Nov. 2–9 events

Across three dates, the OAE will host a story share on social media, a faculty roundtable on student support, and a presentation by an accomplished alumnus. All events are free and open to the public. The OAE is part of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement, in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President….Continue Reading

Cougs Rise Student on Terrell Mall wearing first generation pin
Starting on Mon., Nov. 2, faculty, staff, alumni and students can express support by signing up to receive and wear a #CELEBRATEFIRSTGEN lapel pin in a photo.

Upcoming Events

Date & Time



November 5, 2020
6:00pm – 7:00pm ET


National First-Generation College Student Celebration

This is an opportunity for first-gen college students to generate energy and renew pride before National First-Generation College Celebration Day. With entertainment via The Council for Opportunity in Education’s (COE) DJ Faro, this fun hour of music, trivia, and prizes encourages students to engage on social media using hashtag #CelebrateFirstGen.

Register here

November 6, 2020
2:00pm – 3:00pm ET

Joint Virtual First-Generation College Celebration

This celebration features opening remarks from The Council for Opportunity in Education’s (COE) President Maureen Hoyler and Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president, Center for First-generation Student Success. Hear a panel discussion about the history of the first-generation student definition, utilizing an asset-based lens.

Register here

November 6, 2020
3:00pm – 4:15pm PST

Supporting the Academic Achievement of First-Gen Students

A roundtable discussion centered around the recently published research article authored by Dr. Amy Nusbaum, Dr. Samantha Swindell, and Dr. Anna Plemons “Kindness at first Sight: The Role of Syllabi in Impression Formation”. Authors will discuss the research findings and provide best practices for faculty to support academic engagement for first gen students.

Register here

Brought to you by the Office of Academic Engagement

November 9, 2020
12:10pm – 1:00pm PST

We Are First-Generation Panel: Navigating WSU from a First-Gen Perspective

This panel features WSU Provost Chilton, Mikala Meize, GPSA College Representative for the College of Communications and Alexandra Donnici, ASWSU Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs.

Register here

Brought to you by WSU Student Affairs

November 9, 2020
4:30pm – 5:30pm PST

Jordan Frost: On Personal and Institutional Barriers and Academic Achievement

Jordan Frost will speak about his personal story being a first gen student, the personal and institutional barriers he had to overcome and offer advice for students to become academically engaged at WSU.

Register here

Brought to you by the Office of Academic Engagement

November 20, 2020
12:30pm – 1:10pm PST


WSU Tri-Cities First Generation Celebration

Bringing together the Tri-Cities WSU Campus to celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on our campus. This event includes a video of a (welcome address) and/or a welcome from The TRIO SSS Staff and a 5-minute motivational video. Following this video, we will feature the stories of five current first-gen students.

Register here

Brought to you by the WSU Tri-Cities TRIO Student Support Services, Student Affairs, ASWSUTC, Cougs LEAD Club, & Student Life

November 20, 2020
1:30pm – 2:00pm PST


WSU Tri-Cities First Gen Student and Faculty Stories

LIVE first-gen student and faculty chats discussing familial/peer support, motivation, mentor-ship, and building a sense of community on campus.

Register here

Brought to you by the WSU Tri-Cities TRIO Student Support Services, Student Affairs, ASWSUTC, Cougs LEAD Club, & Student Life


Samantha Swindell

Dr. Samantha Swindell
Professor of Psychology, career-track
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences

Washington State University – Pullman

Dr. Swindell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in psychology at the University of Puget Sound in 1993 before coming to Washington State University to pursue a doctoral degree in experimental psychology. After completing her PhD in 1998, she served as a postdoctoral research assistant for one year before being appointed as the director of the undergraduate psychology program in the Department of Psychology. In 2015, Dr. Swindell was invited to join the Dean’s leadership team in the College of Arts and Sciences, first as an assistant dean overseeing program assessment and later as an associate dean with expanded responsibilities related to undergraduate education. In her faculty appointment, Dr. Swindell routinely teaches and mentors psychology graduate students preparing to teach Introductory Psychology for the first time. She has received several teaching and mentoring awards during her career, most notably the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor for career-track faculty at WSU.

Dr. Anna Plemons
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Scholarly Assistant Professor, DTC.
Washington State University – Tri-Cities

Anna Plemons is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at WSU Tri-Cities and a faculty member in the Digital Technology and Culture Program. Her research focuses broadly on issues of educational justice. In higher education, that focus is applied to issues of access for underrepresented students. In the U.S. prison, her research and teaching practice focuses on decolonial pedagogies and relational methodologies. Her book, Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities, was released last year.

Jordan Frost
Activities Director & Teacher,Psychology
Issaquah High School

Jordan Frost is currently the Activities Director at Issaquah High School. Jordan earned a master’s degree in teaching in May 2019 and a bachelor’s degree in history from WSU in May 2018.

As an undergraduate, Frost was heavily involved in leadership roles on the Pullman campus, serving as a Resident Advisor in the residence halls, Cougar Connector for the admissions office, and as president of the Residence Hall Association, among other roles.

Frost was elected president of the Associated Students of Washington State University for the Pullman campus his senior year. As ASWSU president, he focused his efforts on sexual assault advocacy, college affordability, and community building. His key accomplishments as president included the creation of free parking at the Student Recreation Center, a reduction in student fees, and the establishment of an endowment for education programs to prevent sexual assault and raise awareness of mental health issues.

As student regent Jordan continued his advocacy for students at the highest level of university governance. Jordan pushed for increased funding of the Title IX office and fought for financial accountability and transparency.

Dr. Amy Nusbaum
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Heritage University

Amy Nusbaum is a 2015, 2016, and 2020 WSU graduate, recently finishing her Ph.D. in the psychology department. She is currently an assistant professor at Heritage University, a Hispanic Serving and Native American Serving/non-tribal Institution located in Toppenish, WA. Amy was recently awarded the Wilbert J. McKeachie award from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, which recognizes one graduate student instructor each year for excellence in teaching. Her research and teaching center issues of educational access and equity, with a specific focus on first-generation students and people marginalized by racism and/or sexism.

Elizabeth Chilton - Provost

Elizabeth Chilton
Washington State University

Elizabeth S. Chilton is the Provost and Executive Vice President of WSU, as well as a Professor of Anthropology. She was formerly the Dean of Harpur College of Arts & Sciences at Binghamton University from 2017-2020. She previously held academic leadership positions at UMass Amherst, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, Associate Dean for Research and Programs in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Department Chair of Anthropology, and founder and former Director of the Center for Heritage & Society. She received her MA and PhD from the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst. She was an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University from 1996-2001. Her research, publications, and teaching focus on the pre-colonial archaeology of the Northeast United States, paleoecology, cultural resource management, heritage studies, and materials science.