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Student Affairs and Academic Support

First-generation student program wins NASPA Grand Gold Excellence Award

The University of South Carolina’s First Things First retreat for first-generation students has won the NASPA Grand Gold Excellence Award. It’s the top program honor from NASPA, the national association for student affairs professionals in higher education. 

The Excellence Awards, which will be presented during the NASPA conference this March in Seattle, recognize the exemplary innovations that have made significant contributions to the well-being and success of college students.

First Things First helps incoming first-generation students build relationships with their peers while they learn about the resources available to them at USC. Students stay overnight on campus, meet others who identify as first-generation college students and attend sessions that focus on time management, mental health and resiliency, writing skills and more. 

Morgan Ruebusch, assistant director for Gamecock Gateway, founded and leads the program, which she says has significant benefits despite its small size.

“While this retreat is relatively small in nature, it has made a great impact on the students who have been able to participate,” Ruebusch said. “The participants have reported stronger sense of belonging at the university, and many have gone on to academically outperform their continuing generation counterparts. 

Read more about First Things First.

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