St. Edward’s has a proud history of championing students who are the first in their families to earn a college degree. We’re dedicated to helping you make the most of college.
Today, nearly one third of Hilltoppers are first-generation students, and many of our faculty, staff and university leaders are the first in their families to go to college — including St. Edward’s University President Montserrat Fuentes. Their contributions to our community are a vital part of the success of St. Edward’s and our mission to create a more just and inclusive world.
33% of our undergrads are first-generation students.
At St. Edward’s, you’re part of a vibrant and welcoming campus family where everyone is valued. Professors, advisors, coaches and peers will guide and mentor you throughout your college experience, and our entire community will support your success.
Check out the campus programs, events and resources on this webpage that support and celebrate our first-generation students. We’re here to help you navigate college and achieve your dreams.
Join your St. Edward’s family in celebrating the accomplishments and success of our first-generation students, faculty and staff. Take part in a week of fun and informative activities that culminates on First-Gen Scholars Day, a full day of festivities and recognition. See photo highlights from our November 2022 event in our Instagram carousel. And catch last year's CBS News highlight.
First-Gen First Fridays
Gather with fellow First-Gen Hilltoppers on the first Friday of each month for special first-gen programs, workshops and socializing. You’ll learn about resources at St. Edward's that can help you build your community and invest in your personal and professional development. And you’ll hear encouraging and inspiring personal stories from our own first-gen students, faculty and alumni.
Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha) Honor Society
The St. Edward’s chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha) Honors Society for first-generation college students offers opportunities for mentoring, building leadership skills, and connecting with first-gen students and professionals on campus and after college. Contact Professor Molly Minus at firstname.lastname@example.org for details and eligibility requirements.
First-Gen FAFSA Fridays
First-Gen FAFSA Fridays will be held on a monthly basis to assist students complete federal and state financial aid applications. A space will be provided where students will receive 1:1 assistance in completing their financial aid applications and answer any questions they may have and address any concerns.
First-GenU BIPOC/Latinx Male Mentoring Program
Share your time, insights and life experience by becoming a peer mentor to BIPOC/Latinx male students at St. Edward’s. Our First-GenU paid internships are a valuable opportunity for first-gen male upperclassmen to support fellow first-gen male students as they acclimate to college life. Contact Sonia Briseno at email@example.com for details.
Deloitte Scholars for Tomorrow’s Workforce
This special scholarship program supports underrepresented students pursuing degrees in Accounting and Finance and connects them to Deloitte employees for professional mentoring and networking opportunities. Contact a career coach for details.
First-Gen Freshman Seminar
Our First Year Seminar in the Major for first-gen students provides important opportunities to acclimate to college life, foster community, build traits for success, tackle barriers and sharpen academic skills. This course also introduces you to campus services and resources and helps you identify your unique strengths that can support your success in college and beyond.
First-Generation Affinity Community
This first-gen affinity group sponsored by Career and Professional Development is a great opportunity to build community and create connections with other first-gen students. Members come together to network, engage, socialize and share resources specific to first-gen students.
Student Success Center
Throughout your time at Edward’s, you’ll have personalized support to foster your success. Your success coach will help you navigate your college journey. Your career coach will guide the way for your professional path. And you’ll have access to a range of resources like academic support services and Student Disability Services (SDS).
Center for First-Generation Student Success
Tap into this national organization that provides resources, education, research and networking to better understand the first-generation student experience and help advance first-generation student success.
Get Involved in Campus Life
There’s always something happening on the hilltop. Getting involved is easy and enriches your college experience. You’ll meet new people, explore new interests and make an impact. Check out the exciting and fun ways you can make your mark at St. Edward’s.
I’m First! Online Community
I’m First! celebrates first-gen college students, and St. Edward’s is a member of its community. Check out videos and blogs from first-gen students from across the country who share their stories and advice. First-gen Hilltopper Hailey Hibbs ’24 has been selected to write for I’m First! Here’s Hailey’s first blog. Be sure to look for her future blogs.
Beginning a New Era for My Family
Coming from a family of fieldworkers, earning a 4-year college degree means that I don’t have to continue the cycle of early mornings and late nights of hard labor my grandparents, parents and I have endured. To my family, this is the end of that era. They are extremely proud that I’m in college.
Choosing St. Edward’s
The CAMP [College Assistance Migrant Program] scholarship brought St. Edward’s to my attention, but it was the close-knit atmosphere, location and school size that kept me from choosing any other school that offered the scholarship. I fell in love with the beauty of the campus and decided that St. Edward’s was not just my university but my home.
Adjusting to College
Being the first in your family to experience this whole new world of university life can be scary, complex and overwhelming at times. On my very first day at St. Edward’s, I was immediately met with a warm welcome from the CAMP staff. I knew I was at the right place and that with the help of professors, staff and upperclassmen, I would have a rewarding experience on the hilltop.
Supporting My Wellbeing
After I arrived at St. Edward’s, my mother became ill, then passed away during my junior year. Everyone on the hilltop was right by my side and ensured that I had what I needed — from professors extending deadlines to the Health & Counseling Center reaching out to support my mental wellbeing. The amount of care I received gave me the strength to pursue my degree during the most difficult time of my life.
Looking to the Future
I came to St. Edward’s excited to learn about what it means to be a leader and hoped to enter the political world after graduation. However, with so many people affected by injustice, especially those in minority groups, and as rights continue to be attacked, denied and removed, I’ve decided to pursue a career in constitutional law.
Making My Family Proud
To me, it's a privilege to be the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. My family has worked hard to support my decision to advance my college education. It means a lot to them that I’m in college, and they are happy and excited for the future opportunities I will have.
Choosing St. Edward’s
I earned my associates degree at Austin Community College, and I didn’t know what to expect at a four-year institution. So I decided to attend a university with small class sizes, which would make it easier for me to adapt. St. Edward’s has been the perfect place. One of the best and simple ways the university has helped me adjust is by sending students emails and texts with reminder dates about important deadlines. I also love the notices throughout the school year about campus events and research opportunities. It helps me plan how to be involved with activities that align with my goals.
Valuing My Mentors
One of my biggest supporters at St. Ed’s is my primary advisor and Chemistry professor, Dr. Mary Kopeck. During my first semester, she always checked in with me and asked how I was doing. She also encouraged me to apply to be a lab teaching assistant and offered me the opportunity to be in her research group. I appreciate the personal attention she’s given me, and how she has helped me accurately plan my coursework at St. Edward’s.
Looking to the Future
It excites me that with my Chemistry degree, I can go down many different paths. Since I’ll most likely be doing research in my career — hopefully in the pharmaceutical industry — I’m glad to be a part of a research team on campus. And being a lab teaching assistant is a valuable experience in case I want to become a teacher someday.
Read about one first-gen Hilltopper's remarkable journey to Stanford University and earning her PhD. Victoria Rodriguez ’11 embraced every opportunity as the first in her family to graduate from college.