Conference Seeks to Assist First Generation Students

Published on October 28, 2021

The Gen1 2.0 conference will virtually gather approximately 150 educators and leaders from K-12 institutions and beyond to discuss ways to better serve the first-generation college student. The conference will be held November 8-10 and is the second year EKU has hosted the event. 

“The goal is to provide innovative and interactive workshops that utilize a Design Thinking framework and focus on the issues faced by first-generation and other underserved student populations,” said Sierrah Anderson, project director for the EKU NOVA Program, a federally-funded TRIO Student Support Services project. 

The conference theme of “We Can Build It Better” reminds participants that the college experience works better for some students than others. To level the playing field, personnel need to create structures that support all students, no matter their familiarity with the higher education process or their support system at home.

“It is important to focus on first-Gen students because they are a marginalized population,” Anderson said. “Many of them lack the resources and preparation to succeed in college. We believe that talking about these differences in a supportive and constructive environment can be empowering and better equip these students for educational success.” 

The first day of the conference is the National First-Generation College Celebration. November 8 was chosen in honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, legislation designed to invest in and create opportunities for minority and low-income students. 

Bridget Burns, the founding executive director of the University Innovation Alliance, will present the keynote address on Tuesday, November 9. Named one of the “16 Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly, Burns has advised university presidents, system chancellors and state and federal policy leaders on strategies to expand access to higher education, address costs and promote completion for students of all backgrounds.

Other featured speakers include Beth Polin, associate professor of management at EKU, and Steve Bullard, executive director for the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs. 

The conference agenda includes a variety of breakout sessions from presenters who will focus on concepts such as cultural competency, building resiliency, mental health, creating sustainable services, barriers in major and career selection and more.

Cost to attend the conference is $75. Visit for more information and registration details.