The collaborative work undertaken by UK’s Office of First Generation Initiatives continues to reap terrific student success – as well as national attention for being a model of good practice.
In October, UK’s First Scholars Program Coordinator Martina Martin co-presented with Leslie Sans, The Suder Foundation’s First Scholars Director of Campus Relations and Programming, at the National Conference on Students in Transition a session entitled “First Generation Transition: An Innovative, Holistic Approach.”
In November, Eric and Deb Suder who are co-founders of The Suder Foundation visited the University of Kentucky to meet with our new Provost Chris Riordan. They discussed with her, President Capilouto and other administrators how the University will continue to support an ever-expanding collaboration of academic and co-curricular support units in the specialized work required for all our first-generation college-going students to succeed.
A reception hosted by the Office of First Generation Initiatives and the Division of Undergraduate Education was a highlight of the visit. You can see above the great turnout of 71 of the 76 First Scholars scholarship winners at UK with Martina Martin (second from the left, first row standing), Deb and Eric Suder (sitting, center) and Matthew Deffendall , Director of First Generation Initiatives (right, first row sitting). The visit ended with an elegant dinner at Maxwell Place with Martin, Deffendall, Dr. Ben Withers, the Provost and the President along with UK’s First Lady.
On behalf of Provost Riordan, Dr. Ben Withers (as interim Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education) attended an administrators’ meeting called by The Suder Foundation (TSF) to meet in Dallas in early December. All seven TSF university affiliates were represented. Besides UK, administrators came from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, The University of Alabama, The University of Memphis, Washington State University, Kansas State University and Northern Arizona University. This two-day working session led to a better understanding between the foundation’s staff and the campus administrators in how The Suder Foundation’s national model center concept is working to support first-generation college students.
Today marked another great milestone in the UK First Scholars Program. Falisha Patel, a scholarship recipient in the 2011 cohort, graduated with a B.A. in Political Science. She has already been accepted into two law school programs, so we are confident that she will begin her law degree in the fall of 2014. Patel is the second First Scholar at UK to graduate within four years. Anthony Cadle of Dayton KY also graduated early when he marched across the stage last May and was highlighted in the opening speech by President Capilouto for his sterling academic career.
The leadership of the Office of First Generation Initiatives is crucial for UK’s continued efforts in improving retention and graduate rates. This was recently recognized by the American Public Media’s Marketplace in a featured show by Amy Scott, “Separate Housing for First Generation Students” (December 13, 2013).
This national news show focused on the experiences of Cody Russell (from Taylor County), Samantha La Mar (from Erlanger) and Josh Johnson (from Pikeville) – and includes an interview with Matthew Deffendall who started the LLC two years ago. It’s worth listening to!
Congratulations to all of those in the Office of First Generation Initiatives and the student support units who collaborate with them to make this work such a success.