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Emotions run deep during Colorado Mesa University’s celebration of first-generation students

Grand Junction—On November 8, 2018, Colorado Mesa University’s president, administrative leaders and first-generation students kicked off the Fearless First celebration of CMU’s first-generation college students.

CMU President Tim Foster began by describing the importance of first-generation students.

“In the west, it really doesn’t matter where you come from,” said Foster during the ceremony. “We take you where you are and judge you by what you can do and what you bring. When you step back and look at what you have accomplished it’s quite a return-on-investment for your future.”

Amanda Miller, a senior at CMU, shared her story about growing up in foster care after her mother battled addiction issues. Holding back tears, Miller shared her gratitude to CMU leaders who have supported her higher education journey.

“I feel so blessed to be one of those kids who literally came from nothing," said Miller. “But here I am. And I’m so thankful for all this support.”

“Celeste Martinez, shared that she had overcome “so many obstacles” and revealed that no one in her family had graduated high school, let alone college. Martinez said despite challenges she believes there is tremendous opportunity at CMU and in education.

Jarrott Brown, a senior, explained he decided to go to college even though neither of his parents had done so. In addition to the support he gets from CMU, Brown thanked his parents for supporting his pursuit of a new family milestone.

“My parents have worked crazy hours and countless jobs so that I was able to have opportunities, and I’m so grateful for that,” said Brown.

Students shared their diverse backgrounds and experiences with the common ground being that each of them was the first from their family to attend college. They are a part of the 44 percent of CMU students who identify as first-generation.

After the student testimonials that moved some people to tears in the crowd, Foster emphasized CMU’s support for the so called Fearless First. Following the kick-off ceremony, the Fearless First joined the larger student body on the campus plaza for a celebration BBQ.

CMU joined the Council for Opportunity in Education, the Center for First-generation Student Success and the Suder Foundation to celebrate the accomplishments of first-generation college students in a national effort.