What Is First Scholars?
MSU Denver joins 349 institutions of higher education as part of the First Scholars Network to advance the work for first-generation student success. The First Scholars Network offers a national model for scaling holistic first-generation student success by engaging and empowering institutions of higher education to radically transform the first-generation student experience, advance academic and co-curricular outcomes, and build more inclusive institutional structures.
Learn More About First Scholars Network
MSU Denver was selected for an inaugural First Forward cohort.
The Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation, has named Metropolitan State University of Denver to its inaugural cohort of First Forward Institutions. The First Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of First-Generation college students. MSU Denver has long been a champion of First-Generation students, developing programs within the Center for Equity and Student Achievement, TRIO Student Support Services, the College Assistance Migrant Program and Roadways to help First-Generation students thrive, while also creating awareness and education opportunities to help faculty and staff become advocates. Today, more than 57 percent of MSU Denver students are the first in their family to enter higher education. The ultimate goal is to create a campus environment in which First-Generation college students, and all students, feel that they belong and are valuable members of the Roadrunner community.
“In order for MSU Denver to continue to be the driver of the talent pipeline in Colorado, it is imperative that we recognize the experiences of First-Generation students,” said Will Simpkins, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs. “I have been impressed by the efforts of our faculty and staff leaders in innovating and working to flex to students’ needs. I want every First-Generation student at MSU Denver to know that we see them, we support them and we are proud of what they’ve accomplished. The many MSU Denver Roadrunners who proudly wear their ‘I’m First’ red tees are proof positive that this community is united in our efforts.”
With MSUDenver as a First Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will have multiple opportunities to engage with peer andaspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of First-Generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First Forward Workshop in Orlando, Florida, in June and will participate in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal-setting, blog development, annual reporting and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory leadership designation.
“The shared MSU Denver commitment to supporting our First-Generation students is evidence of being selected for the First Forward program,” said Brandi Scott, associate dean of Equity and Student Achievement. “Thank you to everyone who has completed the Roadrunners First training and to those who have adjusted your teaching and support to better serve our First-Generation students!”
“First Forward is an exciting opportunity for MSU Denver to join an elite community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge and continue to advance the success of First-Generation students across the country,” said Kevin Kruger, Ph.D., President of NASPA. “We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First Forward cohort and know MSU Denver will be a significant contributor.”
To learn more about the Center for First-Generation Student Success, visit here.
BY LINDSEY COULTER
MAY 2, 2019
MSU Denver named to Center for First-generation Student Success First Scholars list.
The Center for First-generation Student Success has recognized Metropolitan State University of Denver for its excellence and vision in serving students who are among the first generation in their families to attend a higher-education institution. The center has named MSU Denver to the First Scholars phase of its First Scholars Network, a four-phase approach that helps institutions build knowledge and resources to advance outcomes for first-generation students.
MSU Denver is one of only two Colorado institutions recognized and was selected based on a demonstrated commitment to first-generation student-success initiatives and institution wide approaches. The University joins 21 other institutions across the country in this aggressive agenda to improve first-generation student outcomes.
“We are very proud to have made MSU Denver a top-choice university for first-generation students, as 58.4% of our undergraduate student body is first-gen,” said Will Simpkins, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs. “However, we also understand that being first-generation is just one part of a student’s identity. Having MSU Denver’s efforts to develop sustainable, scalable and long-term strategies for nurturing the whole student recognized by the Center for First-generation Student Success reaffirms that we are on the right path.”
Through a phased approach designed to scaffold learning and achievement of institutions over time, First Scholars provides institutions with the opportunity to engage in student-centered, systemic transformation through an ecosystem of resources, including:
- An evidence-based, research-supported framework of actionable priorities supported through monthly workshops.
- Diagnostic tools providing critical institutional insight.
- Robust data-sharing as part of the national Postsecondary Data Partnership.
- Guidance of expert coaches along each step of the experience.
- Customized solutions and continuous improvement plans personalized to allow each institution to meet its first-generation student-success goals.
Inclusion in this prestigious cohort also provides funding to attend the First Scholars Leadership Academy in Boston on March 31-April 1 prior to the NASPA Annual Conference. MSU Denver will send four to six members of the leadership team to prepare for the First Scholars commitment, establish peer networks and center the roles of leadership in advancing this important work.
More than 275 institutions of higher education have entered the network and progressed through the First-gen Forward phase. In addition to MSU Denver, the center this year recognized the following institutions for their advancement to the First Scholars phase:
- Arkansas Tech University
- Colorado State University
- Cuyahoga Community College
- Ferris State University
- Florida International University
- George Mason University
- Kent State University
- Marquette University
- Nevada State College
- North Carolina Central University
- Presbyterian College
- Richard Bland College
- Tarleton State University
- Texas A&M University-Commerce
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- University of Wisconsin OshKosh
- Virginia Tech
- Washburn University
- Washington State University
- Wheaton College
To learn more about the First Scholars Network and the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.
BY LINDSEY COULTER
MARCH 20, 2023
First-Generation Steering Committee
As MSU Denver works to build an institutional landscape that more holistically supports ﬁrst-generation student populations, a steering committee comprised of cross-campus partners was established to support first-generation student success at the institution. The steering committee will develop vision and strategy and scale co-curricular programming and initiatives that will serve first-generation students and improve student retention at MSU Denver. The Steering Committee’s tasks is to set the baseline for the campus work that is foundational level-setting through mapping and strategic document audit processes and through understanding the population being served at MSU Denver. Furthermore, the Steering Committee will develop and recommend the overarching goal which will guide all future work at MSU Denver. We want to recognize the steering committee members for their work, dedication, and support of first-generation students as they collectively work with the institution to employ strategies that foster an environment of success for first-generation students at MSU Denver.
Alicia Montoya | COSI Back to Work/Displaced Worker Coordinator
Alyssa Nilemo | Deputy Chief Activation Officer
Alyson Doty | First-Generation Student Coordinator
Codi Whittington | Assistant Director of Operations and Events
Dr. Bridget Arend | Associate Director of Teaching & Learning
Dr. Bridgette Coble | Director of Career Engagement
Dr. Christine Sheikh | Student Academic Services Specialist
Imani Morning | Director of Engagement, Culture and Organizational Development
Isaac Garcia | Assistant Director of First-Generation Initiatives, Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion
Loretta Wahl | Assistant Dean/Director of TRIO Student Support Services
Dr. Megan Scherzberg | Executive Director of Orientation, Transfer and Reengagement
Nhi Dang | Associate Director of Equity & Racial Justice Programs, Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion
Sarah Goldenberg | Exploratory Advisor
Taylor Tackett | Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Wellness/Dean of Students
Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion (CMEI)
First-Generation Initiatives is a program within the Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to swing by our office, give us a call, or email us. We would love to hear from you!
Questions? Contact CMEIConnect with the CMEI
Jordan Student Success Building (JSSB) 237
890 Auraria Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
P.O. Box 173362, Campus Box 39, Denver, CO 80217-3362