First-Generation Initiative

Expanding our first-generation college student Book & Support Fund

Materials required for classes are expensive. Many SMU first-generation students work multiple jobs to pay for class materials such as laptops, textbooks, and school supplies.

To support our students, the First-Generation Initiative (FGI) created a Book & Support Fund in the fall of 2022 to help first-year and transfer first-generation students obtain school supplies.

During 2022-2023, the FGI provided funds totaling $5,018 to 23 students for class materials. Students return materials to a lending library managed by FGI after the term. Therefore, other first-generation college students can use the resource in future semesters.

Help us expand this critical program, the Book & Support Fund, on March 7 via SMU Giving Day. This resource is invaluable to the FGI and our first-generation students. We look forward to raising funds to continue supporting student success on the Hilltop.

First-Generation Initiative

Apply now: Book & Tech Fund

Need funds for book and tech supplies? First-Generation Initiative’s Book and Tech Fund is open now!

The Book and Tech Fund is intended to support first-generation first-year and first-generation transfer students obtain college supplies.

Funds are limited and applications are processed upon submission order. Be sure to apply ASAP!

Applications close on Wednesday, January 25th.

First-Generation Initiative

NASPA features SMU’s First-Gen Fest on website

The Center for First-generation Students, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, highlighted SMU’s celebration of National First-Gen Day, known as First-Gen Fest.

The Center has been monumental in supporting and advocating for first-generation students. Their mission statement is as follows:

“We provide data, training, and expertise for a growing network of colleges and universities around the country to scale and sustain the important work of serving first-generation students.”

It is an honor to have SMU’s First-Gen Fest highlighted by such a powerful contributor to first-generation student success. We look forward to celebrating with our students today, beginning at 12pm on Dallas Hall Lawn.

Happy National First-Gen Day!


First-Generation Initiative

First-Generation Association to host pre-professional series

First-Generation Association (FGA) is a student organization for first-generation college students and supporters of first-generation college students. FGA is hosting a pre-professional series for students interested in the pre-med track.

Join them at 5pm on November 1 in Hughes-Trigg Student Center rm. 209 to learn about available resources for pre-med students!

FGA was established during the spring of 2020; Their mission statement is as follows:

First-Gen Association is an educational organization which exists to foster a community of people interested in all aspects of being a first-gen student, or connecting with students who qualify as such; promoting students, creating a community at SMU that welcomes students from different backgrounds, connecting and creating partnerships with other first-gen students in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Students can RSVP via Connect.smu.

First-Generation Initiative

Show your first-gen pride: First-Gen Fest

Mark your calendars for First-Gen Fest, SMU’s celebration of National First-Gen Day! First-Generation Initiative will host its third-annual First-Gen Fest on November 8, on Dallas Hall Lawn.

First-Gen Fest is for first-generation students, faculty, staff, and supporters of first-generation students wanting to celebrate their special day with them. Food/drinks will be provided while students have the opportunity to connect with faculty/staff, students, organizations and campus resources!

Faculty, staff and students can RSVP via SMU Connect.


First-Generation Initiative

Yellow September: First-Generation Initiative spotlights suicide prevention month

It’s National Suicide Prevention Week/Month, also known as Yellow September. The First-Generation Initiative would like to highlight campus and national mental health resources.

If you are looking for a sign, this is it. You matter. Your life matters. If you need support or someone you know needs support, resources are available.

SMU Mental Health Resources:

  • SMU Counseling Crisis Intervention: 214-768-2277, select Option 2
    • Speak to an on-call counselor 24/7
  • SMU Counseling Services Continued Care Support: 214-768-2277
    • All SMU students are eligible to receive free services at the counseling center, regardless of insurance

National Resources:

  • Suicide Crisis Center: 214-828-1000
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, press Option 1
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
    • The Trans Lifeline’s Hotline is a peer-support service for trans and questioning individuals in crisis. All operators are trans-identified.
  • Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
    • The only national 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ young people under 25
  • TrevorText: Text START to 678678
    • A free, confidential service in which LGBTQ young people can text a trained Trevor counselor for support and crisis intervention.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
    • Crisis-intervention hotline that conducts conversations exclusively by text message 24 hours a day.
First-Generation Initiative Hilltop Scholars Hunt Scholars Mustang Scholars Rotunda Scholars University Honors Program

AT&T Data Science Scholars lunch and learn on September 21

The First-Generation Initiative is excited to spotlight the AT&T Data Science Scholars program at an upcoming Lunch and Learn. The AT&T Data Science Scholars program is an eight-week program followed by an eight-week paid internship!

To learn more about this amazing opportunity, join the First-Generation Initiative for lunch and learn on September 21 at noon in Hughes-Trigg Student Center Chamber (lower level). All scholars and honors programs are welcome to join. RSVP on Connect.SMU to save your seat.

The program is actively recruiting students who are:

  • Current juniors (graduating December 2023 or after)
  • Seniors on accelerated pathways
  • Graduating seniors who will be immediately entering a graduate program
  • Current graduate students

Questions about the AT&T Data Science Scholars program can be directed to Terry Teague ( Questions concerning the lunch and learn event can be directed to

First-Generation Initiative Mustang Scholars

Cesar Quezada joins SMU as the inaugural director of Mustang Scholars and the First-Generation Initiative

Student Academic Engagement & Success (SAES) is excited to announce Cesar Quezada as the inaugural director of Mustang Scholars and the First-Generation Initiative effective August 29.

Quezada brings his experience with first-generation students, cohort-based mentorship programs, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and undocumented students to the Hilltop. He is a first-generation college student and DACA recipient originally from Durango, Mexico who earned a degree in psychology from Texas A&M University-Commerce.  In his previous roles, he has been the associate director of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Division at Creighton University and assistant director for the Multicultural Center at the University of North Texas.

When asked about what he is most excited about, Quezada remarked “I am very excited to get to campus and begin working with everyone in order to start to impact students as soon as possible. The opportunity to get to work with Dr. Grabsch, the Mustang Scholars, and the large group of first-generation students is what has led me to take this opportunity.”

Quezada’s platform as a higher education professional gives him the advantage to incorporate both the student perspectives and needs into this overall work which includes teaching others what they can do in order to help and better serve first-generation student communities at their institutions. Since his undergraduate years, he has also been a part of various professional associations where he has presented at state and national conferences, among them the NatDC’s Diversity in Leadership Conference, NCORE, Excelencia in Education, and participating in Men of Color Consortiums hosted by Project Males out of the University of Texas at Austin. He also has received national recognition for his work from Excelencia in Education.

Please join us in welcoming Cesar Quezada to the SAES team!


First-Generation Initiative

First-Generation Initiative to host Welcome (Back) Reception

First-Generation Initiative was established in 2019 to support first-generation college students on campus. The initiative will host its first-annual reception on August 25 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Varsity.

The Welcome (Back) Reception is for new and returning first-generation college students and supporting faculty/staff. Food and drinks will be provided while students are given opportunities to make connections and learn about resources.

Faculty, staff and first-generation students can RSVP via SMU Connect.

First-Generation Initiative

First-Generation Initiative publishes refreshed and expanded website

The First-Generation Initiative (FGI) published a refreshed website ( for the SMU community on August 13. Just in time for the new academic year, the refresh expanded web-based resources and new features including:

Faculty and staff are encoruaged to direct students to the first-generation initiative via Feedback and recommendations of additional resources/scholarships are welcome; please email