UNT new grant to boost efforts of first generation success center

Friday, December 15, 2023

The First-Generation Success Center at UNTDENTON (UNT), Texas – The First-Generation Success Center at the University of North Texas received a $5,000 grant from the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) to support the center’s ongoing efforts in building first-generation student-centered programming. The grant is the second from TIAA and part of a larger grant donation that included UNT’s Student Veteran Services and programs with the Office of Outreach.

“We're deeply thankful for TIAA's generosity, which directly benefits our students,” said Desiree Padron, director of UNT’s First-Generation Success Center. “Because of their gift, we can enhance awareness of graduate school options as well as expand cultural engagement opportunities and guest speaker engagements.”

Created in 2021, UNT’s First-Generation Success Center has quickly grown to offer programs and resources to support first-generation in college students, who account for more than 40% of the university’s undergraduate population. More than 4,000 students visited the center in the last year to learn more about campus resources, financial aid, financial literacy, college terminology, career preparation and academic coaching.

The First-Generation Success Center intends to utilize the grant to raise awareness about graduate school and the benefits of pursuing further education, emphasizing that graduate school is within reach. Additionally, the center aims to enhance students' exposure to an array of career paths by placing increased emphasis on inviting guest speakers from various industries and fields of interest.

“This gift from TIAA is not merely a financial contribution. It is a positive impact on the UNT community and to our students. Their generosity helps support students as they navigate college life,” Padron said.

The First-Generation Success Center has a direct impact on students and their success, including that of UNT senior Rebecca Ravsten, who graduates this month. As a first-generation student, she finds herself in the unique position of attending college simultaneously with two of her children.

Rebecca Ravsten in her green regalia"We've bonded even more because we are all college students," Ravsten said. "It has been fun during our days off and vacations from school. We usually study together, even though we go to different universities."

Ravsten will be the first among her parents and siblings to graduate from college. Her mother went to school until third grade, and her father until seventh grade. He later earned a G.E.D. in his late forties. For Ravsten, returning to college was an opportunity to accomplish a lifelong goal.

"I wanted to be an example to my children and to teach them that education is very important and that goals can be met when you work toward achieving them, even if it takes a little longer to accomplish them," Ravsten said. “It has been a tough road, but I am at the finish line. I know that my family is proud of me.”

After she graduates from UNT’s College of Applied and Collaborative Studies, Ravsten hopes to find a job in human resources.

“I want to thank the First-Generation Success Center for the great work they do each day in helping students like me get through the college experience," Ravsten said.


UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108

From UNT – General News