First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Success Programs

First-Gen Social “Let’s Talk About FAFSA”

On Feb. 15, 30 first-gen students attended a workshop sponsored by the First-Gen Initiative, First-Gen Association, and Financial Literacy to discuss the changes in the FAFSA, answer questions and socialize. The presentation was conducted by Jennifer Gomez with several Financial Services advisors in attendance for one-on-one discussions. Also joining the students were members of the University Advising Center, who mixed with the students and discussed summer and fall registration plans. Thank you FGI, FGA and Financial Literacy for sponsoring an informative program in an informal way to help our first-gen students. The Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was enjoyed by ALL!

First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Success Programs

First Gen Fest a success

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.

Thank you, Chris Meyers and Brandon Kitchin
Thank you partners, for our resource tables
Great food
First Gen T shirts were a hit
University Testing Center

University Testing Center will Close for Winter Break

Following the undergraduate finals exam schedule for Fall 2022, the University Testing Center’s physical location in Clements Hall G15 will be closed for the remainder of December.

Questions and queries can still be sent to us via email or by phone and we will respond as promptly, within 1-3 business days.

Happy Winter Break and best wishes to all of our students!

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.

University Testing Center

University Testing Center to close for Fall Break

In reflection of the undergraduate class schedule, the University Testing Center will be closed, Monday, October 10, and Tuesday, October 11, for Fall Break.

We will resume normal operation hours on October 12! Good luck to all of our students on midterms!

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 Student Academic Engagement & Success

First-generation students share their challenges and success at SMU

SMU graduates Abena Marfo ’22 and Briana Morales ’21 shared with the Dallas Morning News their challenges and successes as first-generation students at SMU.

Read more on the Dallas Morning News website.