The First Gen Initiative (FGI) and the First Gen Student Association (FGA), with support from SMU Student Senate, collaborated for the 2023 annual First Gen Fest. The celebration was a huge success with over 500 students, faculty, and staff celebrating our First Generation Mustangs. Chris Meyers (SASP/SAES), Brandon Kitchin (SCIE/Student Affairs), and members of the First Gen Student Association (FGA) coordinated food, games, resource tables and give aways to celebrate the contributions and successes of our First Gen Mustangs.
SASP is fully staffed to kick of the fall, 2023 semester!
Please join us in welcoming Gracy Herrera as the new academic probation counselor. Gracy will counsel all pre-major students on academic probation. Gracy is an education advocate with over 14 years’ experience developing academic courses of action for students of varying social backgrounds, scholastic levels, and special needs. Gracy has most recently focused on advancing the skills of student-athletes in Dubai. Gracy will start next Monday, August 7.
We are also excited to welcome Makenzie Moriarty as the new academic counselor. Makenzie will counsel declared majors on academic probation, university probation, Prelude students, and the general undergraduate population. Makenzie comes to SMU from the University of South Carolina where she was a GA in the Student Success Center working to empower peer leaders and counsel students who were working to transfer to USC. Makenzie will start next Monday, August 7.
Varun Singh is our new Graduate Assistant for the First-Generation Initiative. Varun will work closely with Chris Meyers to support our first-gen students and implement our signature events. Varun is pursuing a MS in Business Analytics in the Cox School of Business. Varun has worked as a head organizer for a film festival, managed various projects, and has spent the last six years starting and managing his own real estate and construction firm. Varun will start next Wednesday, August 9.
We’d also like to thank our colleagues who assisted in the search process for all our positions this spring and summer – your collaborations are so appreciated.
Undergraduate Education and Academic Success is a branch within the Office of the Provost’s Division of Student Academic Engagement and Success which oversees a wide range of academic support and engagement offices and initiatives.
Our 2022 – 2023 offices and initiatives included:
- First-Generation Initiatives
- University Testing Center
- Office of General Education
- Mustang Scholars Program
- SMU in Four
A copy of the annual report is included below and is available for download.
Questions, comments, and feedback can be directed to Dr. Dustin Grabsch (email@example.com).
Dr. Robin Corbett, DASS Coordinator, will be leaving SMU to be closer to her home and family to pursue new endeavors effective 7/7/2023. All student files will be temporarily reassigned until our new staff member arrives. For any questions, please call the office while we’re in this transition – 214-768-1470
We are welcoming the new Coordinator in July and will be introducing her before the fall semester begins.
Please join us in wishing Robin well and thank her for her work with SMU.
Our second change involves the First Gen Initiative. These programs and student academic support will be overseen by Associate Director, Chris Meyers. Chris has done an outstanding job working with our students on academic probation and will supervise a new academic counselor to take over those duties. Chris is excited to work with our first generation students and pick up the program that has grown tremendously over the past three years. He’ll work hand in hand with the advisor to the First Generation Association, the recognized student organization, to expand the programming and celebrations for these students. Please contact Chris if you are interested in working with our First Gen students – firstname.lastname@example.org. Any graduate student interested in joining this program as a graduate assistant should look at the job description on Handshake.
Briana Morales joins the Honors and Scholars team as the new Rotunda Scholars Success Counselor. A Texas Native, first-generation college graduate, and SMU alum, Briana earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in the SMU Counseling program. Since her time as an undergraduate, Briana worked with SMU’s First-Generation Initiative and First-Generation Association as a fierce advocate for many students whose struggles she knows too well.
Briana’s experience mentoring students, coordinating student centered events, and building relationships across campus will be a welcome addition to the Rotunda family. Briana is excited to join the Rotunda support system and community as it grows in number and expands services. Her favorite part of serving students is the relief and joy on students’ faces when they see how much you care. To her, there is no greater feeling than showing someone you care about their well-being and success. We are excited for Briana to join our team and begin working June 19th.
As part of the brand migration, the SAES Marketing, Communication, and Digital Technology committee worked with unit webmasters to assist with a site content refresh (e.g., text, pictures, layouts). The committee recommended reorganizing navigation and pages based on Google Analytics data of high-traffic pages. As part of the process, broken links, spelling, SEO optimization, SMU web governance, and site navigation are also being addressed. Finally, professional headshots and employee biographies will be added over the summer.
Beginning with the SAES main navigation in late May, all units will be migrated over the course of the summer and early fall terms.
Last week, the following unit websites were completed:
- Office of Engaged Learning
- Office of General Education
- Common Curriculum
- University Curriculum
- General Education Curriculum
Scheduled to migrate on or around the dates listed below will be:
- June 23:
- University Testing Center
- University Advising Center
- July 21:
- Academic Development of Student-Athletes
- Office of Student Success and Retention
- August 11:
- Student Academic Success Programs
- Office of Undergraduate National Fellowships
- September 1:
- University Honors Program
- First-Generation Initiative
- Scholars’ Den
- September 22:
- President’s Scholars
- Rotunda Scholars
- Mustang Scholars
- Hilltop Scholars
Please pardon our dust during this transition. If you discover broken links or issues, please direct them to email@example.com to be routed appropriately. The next communication on the webpage migration will be once all SAES units have been completed.
- Mon – Thurs 2:30-5 (in person at the A-LEC)
- Tues & Thurs 4-6:30 (ZOOM)
- Fri 2:30-4:30 (in person at the A-LEC); Sun 5-8 (ZOOM)
Co-hosted by the First-Generation Association and the First-Generation Initiative, the second annual First-Generation Graduation Celebration was a success on Sunday, April 30, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom.
This year’s celebration spotlighted the 75 first-generation students graduating in May and August of 2023. The 75 students will be collectively awarded an estimated 142 degrees.
Eighteen graduating students were presented with a first-generation graduation stole, a commemorative Class of 2023 tumbler, and a handwritten letter from a First-Gen Proud Faculty or Staff Ally.
Get to know the 18 graduating students who were joined by their family and friends at this year’s ceremony:
Graduation stoles have long been worn by graduates during commencement ceremonies as a symbol of personal and academic achievement. At SMU, we are proud to provide stoles to all of our first-generation graduating students to help them mark the significant accomplishment of reaching graduation day.
First-generation students often face unique challenges, such as navigating the college or university system, balancing academic demands with work and family responsibilities, and overcoming financial difficulties.
Wearing a stole that says first-generation during graduation is a way to recognize and honor these challenges and to show pride in being the first in one’s family to achieve this level of education. It is also a way to inspire and encourage future generations to pursue higher education.
This blog post will be updated in two weeks to include additional photos from the ceremony. For information on the First-Generation Initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you ready to share your SMU experience with the world? The First-Generation Initiative is excited to announce that we’re looking for enthusiastic first-generation students, faculty, and staff to participate in an Instagram takeover.
Students can showcase their student events, activities, and campus life! Faculty and staff can reflect on their own first-generation experience and offer tips for success.
It’s an excellent opportunity for our first-generation community to share your unique perspective, connect with a broader audience, and make your mark on our community’s social media.
Why should you participate in an Instagram takeover?
Share Your Story: This is your chance to highlight your experiences as a first-generation student, faculty, or staff member. Whether you’re a student involved in clubs, sports, or other activities, an Instagram takeover allows you to showcase your involvement, passion, and pride for our university. Faculty and staff can offer reflections to normalize the first-generation college experience. Everyone’s story matters – and we’re here for it.
Connect with Your Peers and Students: By taking over our Instagram account, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with students. It’s a chance to build a sense of community and foster meaningful connections on the Hilltop.
Be Creative and Have Fun: An Instagram takeover is a chance to unleash your creativity and have fun! You can experiment with different types of content, such as photos, stories, videos, polls, and more. You can also share your thoughts, insights, and perspectives on various topics related to your university experience. Faculty and staff, not sure what to do? We are here to help if you want to try out a new social media platform.
Contribute to FGI’s Social Media: By participating in an Instagram takeover, you’ll be contributing to your FGI’s social media presence and helping to showcase the vibrant and dynamic campus life. Your content can inspire and engage prospective students, alumni, and the broader community.
If you’re interested in participating in an Instagram takeover, here’s how you can get involved:
- Follow us on Instagram: Ensure you’re following our FGI official Instagram @smu1stgen account to stay updated on the latest news and announcements.
- Submit a request to take over Instagram via our webform.
We will get in touch with you! We can’t wait to see the incredible content you’ll create and share with the SMU community and beyond.