First Generation Student Resources

First Generation, first in your family, being the first can have many meanings and expectations. We use the term to mean someone who does not have exposure to or knowledge of navigating higher educational institutions such as Rensselaer. 

National First Gen. Day
November 8

3 - 5 p.m. First Gen. Reception
Academy Hall 4th Floor

Join us for cider donut sundaes and a hot cider bar. Take an "RPI 1 laptop sticker", send a post card home, pass along advice to future students and take a photo in our photo booth!

First Gen Day is celebrated annually on November 8 to commemorate the signing of the Higher Education Act (“HEA”) of 1965 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. This act created federal financial aid programs to fund students’ educations and made key investments in colleges and universities.

Dorit Nevo

Dorit Nevo, Acting Vice Provost & Dean, Graduate Education

I didn’t want to go to college, I had no idea what I wanted to study or do with my life. But my parents made it very clear that I had no say in the matter, so I chose what seemed to be the least-worst major. I hated most courses in my first year. With time, I was able to see which topics and electives were more interesting to me and I made changes and tweaks to find the best fit path for my career. It was definitely a journey rather than a single decision.

Learn more about Dr. Nevo>>

Lee Ligon

Lee Ligon, Associate Dean of the School of Science

I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Cincinnati. My parents were teenagers when I was born, and despite not having much formal education, they loved books. Our house was filled with books, which singled me out as “weird” in my decidedly anti-intellectual neighborhood. But books were a great escape and comfort for me from an often chaotic and volatile childhood.

Read more of Dr. Ligon's experience as a first-generation student >>

Jonathan Stetler

Jonathan Stetler, Lecturer Biological Sciences

Neither of my parents had the opportunity to go to college. My father served in the army and started a family with my mother upon returning home. Though they didn’t know how college worked, they knew they wanted my brother and I to have a future that valued enriched through higher education. From the day I moved into my Freshman dorm, I felt this inherent pressure to make my family proud.

Read more of Dr. Stetler's experience as a first-generation student >>

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