First-generation college students will be the focus of a special celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, at the Lion’s Den in Billingsly Student Center.

Presented by Project Stay, the celebration coincides with the national celebration established in 2017 by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success as a way to honor students who are the first in their family to attend college.

“This is the second time we’ve done it,” says Dr. Debbie Fort, director of Missouri Southern’s Project Stay program. “The actual date for the celebration is Nov. 8, because that is when the Higher Education Act was passed in 1965.”

Dr. Dean Van Galen, the university’s new president, and his wife, Mary, will be on hand to speak at 11 a.m.

“When Dr. Van Galen addressed the faculty and staff after he first came to Missouri Soutern, he mentioned that both he and Mary were first-generation college students,” says Fort. “In fact, all of the members of our President’s Council except for one were first-generation students.”

The event will include free cupcakes, information about TRIO programs and how they benefit first-generation students, and “First to Roar” lapel pins.

“We’re here to support those who are first-generation students who may not understand the cultural changes that college can bring, and to help those students navigate them,” says Fort.