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GVSU earns national recognition for commitment to first-generation student success

Grand Valley was recognized nationally for its support of first-generation students and named to a cohort of similar institutions that demonstrate a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes for this population of students. 

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation, announced the 2022-2023 First-gen Forward Cohort. Grand Valley and other selected institutions will receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the center’s research and resources. There are 53 institutions in the cohort; Grand Valley is one of two from Michigan.

President Philomena V. Mantella, a first-generation student herself, said the recognition from NASPA affirms Grand Valley's commitment to increasing access and student success in higher education by removing barriers for students.

"Any student who has a passion for learning and a seriousness of pursuit belongs at Grand Valley," Mantella said. "We are pleased to be recognized with other institutions that foster an environment of success for first-generation students."

Nearly 40 percent of Grand Valley students are the first in their families to attend college. 

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said services and resources are in place to support students as they navigate the university. These include the Grand Valley Pledge, which provides free tuition to Michigan high school graduates with family incomes of less than $50,000, and eight TRIO offices that serve pipeline students in middle and high school, college students, and community members.

"We know the key to success is meeting students where they are and offering them assistance as they navigate Grand Valley and continue through to becoming a Laker for a lifetime," said Truss, who was also a first-generation college student.

Truss credited the work of Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury, associate professor of education, and Nykia Gaines, assistant vice president for federal TRIO programs, for leading the effort to pursue this designation.


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