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First generation students celebrated at USM

Southern Miss commemorates National First Gen Celebration Day, recognized annually on Nov. 8 to celebrate students, staff and faculty who are the first in their families to pursue and graduate with a four-year degree.
The First Gen organization held a week full of activities ranging from a group photo to a pep rally. This week of celebration was sponsored by TRIO-Student Support Services, the Center for Student Success, the McNair Scholars Program and the Center for Faculty Development.
First Generation Week is celebrated to commemorate the importance of supporting students that are the first in their family to attend college. “The importance of being a first generation student is you have the opportunity to pave the way for your future generation to follow,” Hannah Arnold, the coordinator for first year programs within the Center for Student Success, said.
The celebration kicked off Monday, Nov. 6 with Igniting the Fire Tabling. The organization set up a table outside of the Fresh for first generation students to connect with fellow first gen students and learn more about offices and resources available to them. First generation students then had the opportunity to join in on the famous Southern Miss tradition of painting the Little Rock. The first day celebration ended in the Thad Cochran Center for a game of Family Feud.
On Tuesday, first generation students set their fears on fire in the live burning activity. The event was to incinerate fears by symbolically setting them ablaze. Wednesday brought even more smiles with picture day. Current first generation students along with alumni who graduated first gen were invited to meet for a commemorative photo in celebration of National First Gen Day. The photo was captured on the steps of the South End Zone of M.M. Roberts Stadium. That evening, students joined together at the Union Plaza for a pep rally. The pep rally offered music, dancing and food for guests to enjoy.
The week-long celebration ended on Friday with the Lighting the Way Community Service Project, where first gen students aided the Downtown Hattiesburg Association in their Annual Candlelit Christmas event.
The week was filled with activities for students to get involved and get to know the importance of paving the way for future generations.
For more information on how to get involved, or if you need support to be successful, contact the Center for Student Success or the TRIO-SSS through email or social media. For more information on first generation students, you can contact Hannah Arnold at [email protected] or visit them in Cook Library.

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