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New program offers community-building for first-generation students at UW–Madison

September 27, 2023

Nearly one in five undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison reports they are the first in their families to attend college.  

In an effort to better support first-generation students and provide them enhanced opportunities to connect, find resources, and build community on campus, today Student Affairs is announcing the launch of First-Generation Badgers. 

“Our first-generation students have a great deal to be proud of, and we are excited to offer more ways to support their success while celebrating their strengths through the First-Generation Badgers program,” says Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin. “We want each student to feel like they can succeed and that they belong here.” 

Programs and services for first-generation students are currently housed within several areas on campus, including the Division of Enrollment Management; the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement; the Center for Academic Excellence in the College of Letters & Science; and Student Affairs.

The First-Generation Badgers program will enhance coordination and programmatic support among these offices, offer opportunities for students to connect with one another throughout the academic year, and inform the development of services for current and future first-gen students.  

“We are thrilled to be starting this initiative in support of our first-gen students,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor says. “As a first-generation student myself, I recall how difficult it was at times to be learning the ins and outs of college academics and campus life without guidance or experience from my family. I’m excited to work with our campus colleagues to strengthen our offerings and community-building opportunities for first-gen students at UW.” 

Students can look forward to the following upcoming events:  

  • Badger Dialogues with First-Gen Students (Oct. 16) 
  • National First-Generation College Celebration Day (Nov. 8) 
  • Winter Welcome programming (January) 
  • First-Gen Graduate Celebration (May) 

Longer-term goals include developing a mentorship program between faculty or staff and students as well as extending programming for parents and families. 

More information on the First-Generation Badgers program, resources, and events will be available soon at