Today, Central joins hundreds of higher education institutions, businesses, non-profits, and schools across the country in celebrating the successes of their resident first-generation college students. Coordinated by the Center for First-Generation Student Success, the national First-Generation College Celebration not only celebrates first-gen students’ contributions to their communities but also addresses barriers to first-generation student success.
More than 40 percent of Central's enrolled undergraduates are first-generation students. Central is among a growing group of nationally recognized universities that specialize in support for first-generation students. The Center for First-generation Student Success named Central a First-Gen Forward institution in 2022. The designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students.
We asked the Central community for their first-gen student stories and observations and received an enthusiastic response. Below, we share a sampling of the responses, which students, faculty, and staff. (Responses have been edited for length and clarity.)
Lisa Baxter-Rincon, School of Business staff
“As a first-generation college student and CCSU staff member, I am immensely proud to pave the way for future generations, demonstrating that educational barriers can be overcome. My journey symbolizes the power of perseverance and serves as a testament to the transformative impact of education within my family and community.”
Krizzia Cruz, student
“Who I have become, I owe to my Mum. Though I had to grow up faster than my friends, I thank her for raising me and bestowing upon me necessary life skills. I am first-gen proud because apart from my two sisters, I am the one who decided to continue her studies. My mother trained as a CNA and has been working for nearly 20 years now, I am glad I get my determination gene from her.”
Jasper Kulinski, student
“I am proud to be a first-gen student because I have been able to accomplish so much with the support of my mom who wasn’t able to continue her education. I am proud to be able to be the first in my family to complete a four-year degree.”
Dr. Decorti Rodgers-Tonge, associate professor, Accounting
“I am the first in my family to graduate from college — the first to obtain an associate’s, bachelor’s, two master’s, and doctorate. I have broken barriers and opened new doors of opportunity that were not afforded to prior generations of my family.”
Sarah Tangarife, student
“I am First-gen proud because this is something my parents always wanted but they never had the opportunity due to the circumstances they were in at the time in their country. But now I am here, and I get to make them proud and show them everything I have accomplished so far and what I will continue to accomplish in the future.”
Cinthia Zuñiga, student
“I am the first person to break the ‘we need to make money’ mold. I'm following my passion and with that more than money will follow. I love my family but my reality has to be different, and for that to happen I have to be brave enough to follow my dreams. Give my family line a different perspective.”