Walsh University Observes National First-Generation College Celebration Day

Nearly half of all Walsh University first-year undergraduates enroll as first-in-family college students

photo of Dr. McCulloh and Francis Gyamfi Osei Tutu
photo of Dr. McCulloh and Aleksandra Velickovic

Across the nation on November 8, 2023, colleges and universities recognize First-Generation College Celebration Day and the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who broke down barriers and carved their own paths by pursuing a college degree. This national day of recognition coincides with the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965 which created the programs that coined the term "first-generation" to college students. First-Gen students are any students whose parent did not complete a 4-year degree.

Being the first in your family to attend college takes courage and resilience, something Dr. Edna McCulloh, Associate Vice President for Academic Administration, knows first-hand [Read her story here, pages 12-14]. She is the first in her family to earn not only a bachelor’s degree but also her master's and doctorate degrees! With nearly half of the first-year students at Walsh University enrolled as first-generation students, she led a committee that spearheaded a new initiative called First Gen Cavs to recognize and support first-year students beyond the incredible resources Walsh provides all students.

group photo of students attending First Gen Cavs event
group photo of students playing a game at First Gen Cavs event

To enhance these resources, First Gen Cavs aims to ease the transition to college and help bridge a gap that significantly impacts first-generation student success and retention. The program includes intentional opportunities to engage and celebrate first-generation students throughout the academic year, starting with Welcome Weekend and continuing through monthly events throughout the academic term. The First Gen Cavs program includes Walsh faculty, staff and coaches who themselves were first-generation students and include a family guide detailing various checkpoints to keep parents and families updated on campus events and resources to help their student be successful.

To mark Walsh University’s inaugural First-Generation College Celebration Day, the following students have shared their experiences and advice for future students.

Hope Wyatt

photo of Hope Wyatt

“I chose Walsh University because of its great nursing program and small class sizes.  Although the first few weeks of college were challenging for me, I reached out and got the support and encouragement I needed to continue my dream of becoming a nurse. My advice to anyone struggling is to never give up!”

Allison Allen
Exercise Science, Pre-Athletic Training

photo of Allison Allen

“I have big aspirations to become an athletic trainer for either Major League Baseball or the National Football League.  At Walsh, I have been able to come out of my comfort zone, get involved in campus and grow in my faith. Between Cavs Cor and the Sisterhood organization, I’m making lifelong friends.”

Logan Boyd
Exercise Science, Pre-Physical Therapy

photo of Logan Boyd

“I came to Walsh University to play baseball for the Cavaliers and to get a great education with the ultimate goal of becoming a chiropractor. My advice to first generation-students is to bring sentimental items from home to always remember your family and hang in there!  You’ll get through it.”

Aleksandra Velickovic

photo of Aleksandra Velickovic

“I am the first in my family to go to college. With a goal to graduate from the nursing program and pursue a masters degree to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, I prioritize my mental health by taking time for myself, getting involved on campus and seeking resources if I need help.”

America Villegas-Camacho
Biology, Pre-Medicine

photo of America Villegas-Camacho

“I am blessed to say that I am a proud first-generation Mexican-American college student! I cannot stress the importance of early exposure to a university setting.  My parents regularly brought me to campus for community events, including the Science and Technology summit.  My heart was set on Walsh as my first choice, and I’m thankful to be a part of the science and Honors program!”

Francis Gyamfi Osei Tutu
Computer Science, Cybersecurity

photo of Francis Gyamfi Osei Tutu

“I have always been a go-getter who believes everything is possible with God. From a young age, I shed limiting beliefs and set out to carve my own path believing I could be the change. My advice to first-generation students is to be proud of your journey, let go of the pressure and worry less about the destination.”

Learn more about First Gen Cavs