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First-generation students inspire as they forge a new path


Indiana University is home to many students who have taken the bold step to be the first in their family to enroll in college. 

I am inspired by these first-generation students and grateful that they are being taught or supported by so many faculty and staff members who share their experience as the person in their family who forged a new path by earning a college degree.

At IUPUI, it is so fitting that Eric Weldy, vice chancellor for student affairs, is a proud first-generation college graduate. Things got off to a rough start his first semester, Eric recalls. A stand-out student in high school, he found himself overwhelmed in college classrooms at first, earning failing or near-failing grades on initial tests in all courses. He immediately scheduled meetings with his professors to get help. Calling this outreach the best decision he ever made, he went on to end that first semester with strong marks.

Eric applied to college because he wanted an opportunity to have a better life for himself and his family. He saw the experience as representing not just himself, but his immediate family and other relatives who weren’t afforded the same opportunities.

Across our state, IU has more than 18,000 first-generation students, each one poised to make a positive impact on our campuses, our communities and their families for generations to come. 

As we celebrate all of our first-generation faculty, staff, and students with activities on our campuses and online this week, we are reminded that earning a college degree offers tremendous influence and increasing opportunities for employment and higher wages, while providing a broad-based education that prepares students to engage in our increasingly global society. 


Pamela Whitten

Indiana University

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