UNH Trailblazers

First Generation Initiatives

First-generation college student: an individual, neither of whose parents completed a baccalaureate degree; or an individual who, prior to 18, regularly resided with and received support from only one parent and whose supporting parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree; or an individual who, prior to the age of 18 did not regularly reside with or receive support from a natural or adoptive parent.

One out of every five undergraduate students on the Durham campus is first-generation college. That number rises to 43% on the Manchester campus and 69% in the College of Professional Studies Online. Being first in one’s family to earn a bachelor's degree means something different to each person and is only one facet of their identity---many students don’t even realize that they are first-generation college, and that’s okay, too. At UNH we embrace the whole student, and we want to ensure that every student on campus feels comfortable, valued, and has all the tools to thrive and reach their academic, personal, and professional goals. First-generation college students sometimes don’t have the same social network or college culture knowledge that continuing-generation college students have. We want to make sure that every student is confident about starting college, knows about all the resources and opportunities available to them as they go through their UNH journey.

We are building a community and an identity around first-generation college students. Here are some ways we are doing this:

  • A UNH Trailblazers Canvas ‘course’ that is a repository of helpful information and source for hearing about events, activities, and opportunities geared toward first-gen college students (A reference site, no assignments or grades)
  • A campaign to identify faculty, staff, and administrators who are first-gen college themselves and who may post a “Proud First-Gen” sticker on their door or laptop, or in their syllabus, to let students know they too have walked that path. Fill out the survey here: Voluntary Self-Identification as First-Gen College
  • Coordination of program activities and opportunities across campus that offer first-gen college students prizes, scholarships for experiential learning like study abroad or other high impact experiences

We hope to expand our offerings and opportunities as we grow. We will always celebrate November 8 – National First-Generation College Celebration Day! Are you a Trailblazer?  Let us know! 

2023 UNH Trailblazers Early Arrival Program

2023 Trailblazers Group Photo on T-Hall lawn

In Summer 2023, the Institute for Student Success used donor funds to run UNH Trailblazers, an early arrival program designed to help Wildcats who are first in their family to attend a 4-year university transition smoothly from high school to UNH. Students got exposure to campus culture, residential life, academic skills, support resources and everything else to be successful at UNH. Participants learned how to decipher their financial aid package and find a campus job, meet one-on-one with their academic advisor and enjoy fun, no-pressure socials with peers and some current UNH student mentors!

Trailblazers entered their fall term with confidence, a network of support, a strong foundation for success and $250 for books. Ongoing participation during fall semester earned them another $250 for spring! By establishing relationships, building academic success skills, and learning about the UNH campus and Durham community students started their UNH journey on strong footing to accomplish their academic and career goals.

First-Generation College Celebration

First Gen 2023 Event Logo

The 2023 First-Generation College Celebration took place the first week of November, and included events catered to first generation college students at UNH. Departments across campus came together to provide this engaging content. We'd like to thank TRIO Scholars, UNH ECenter, the Office of National Fellowships, McNair Scholars, UNH Global Education, UNH Library and UNH Honors for hosting and facilitating these opportunities.

This event is made possible by the amazing volunteers of the First-Gen Celebration Planning Committee offering their time, expertise, and creative ideas, and the financial support of the McDonough Family Program Fund.  Thank you to the following groups for raffle and giveaway donations: UNH Advancement, UNH Athletics, Barnes & Noble Bookstore, UNH ECenter, UNH Graduate School, Dimond Library, McNair Scholars, UNH Trailblazers (Institute for Student Success), UNH Theater Dept., and author Mike Wysocki.

The First-Generation College Celebration is a wonderful opportunity to hear from first-gen UNH students. This year Jill Mundung and Kay McGeehan shared their experiences and insights to success at UNH.

Group photo with first-gen students and President Dean
Kay McGeehan picture

Kay McGeehan

Jill Mundung photo

Jill Mundung