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University of North Texas Receives Grant to Boost First-Generation Student Success

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DENTON, Texas – The University of North Texas (UNT) has taken a significant step forward in supporting its first-generation college students, thanks to a generous grant from the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA). The $5,000 grant awarded to UNT’s First-Generation Success Center will bolster the center’s efforts in creating programs specifically tailored for first-generation students.

The First-Generation Success Center, a pivotal part of UNT since its inception in 2021, focuses on offering resources and guidance to first-generation college students. These students, who make up over 40% of UNT’s undergraduate population, often face unique challenges in navigating the higher education landscape. The center has become a crucial support system for more than 4,000 students, providing assistance in understanding campus resources, financial aid, college terminology, career preparation, and academic coaching.

This recent financial boost from TIAA, the second grant received from the organization, is part of a broader philanthropic effort that includes support for UNT’s Student Veteran Services and various programs within the Office of Outreach. Desiree Padron, director of the First-Generation Success Center, expressed her gratitude for TIAA’s continued support, emphasizing that the grant would allow the center to enhance its programming significantly. Key areas of focus will include raising awareness about graduate school opportunities, expanding cultural engagement opportunities, and increasing the variety of guest speakers from diverse industries.

The grant’s impact is evident in the experiences of students like Rebecca Ravsten, a UNT senior and first-generation college student. Ravsten’s journey is particularly remarkable as she attends college concurrently with two of her children, creating a unique family dynamic centered around shared educational experiences. As the first in her immediate family to graduate from college, Ravsten views her education as a means to set an example for her children and to demonstrate the importance and achievability of educational goals.

Upon graduation from UNT’s College of Applied and Collaborative Studies, Ravsten aspires to pursue a career in human resources, a goal made more attainable through the support of the First-Generation Success Center. Her story is a testament to the center’s role in empowering students to navigate their college journey successfully.

The First-Generation Success Center, with the aid of the TIAA grant, continues to be a beacon of hope and a source of invaluable support for first-generation students at UNT, aiding them in overcoming obstacles and achieving their academic and career aspirations.

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