WT Named to Select National Group Advancing First-Generation Student Success

Chip Chandler Mar 01, 2022
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WT Named to Select National Group Advancing First-Generation Student Success

Contact: Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University’s commitment to first-generation students is being recognized nationally.

The Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, announced March 1 that WT is part of its 2022-23 First-Gen Forward cohort. A total of 53 institutions from around the country were named to the cohort.

The First-Gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education who have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources. 

WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, offers numerous programs, services and initiatives for first-generation students, including the F1RSTGEN student organization.

Currently, WT’s student population is more than 46 percent first-generation.

“The Center is pleased to welcome West Texas A&M University into the 2022-23 First-Gen Forward cohort. Through the application process, it was evident that WT is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster an environment of success for this important population,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president, Center for First-Generation Student Success. 

Being named to the cohort is a significant milestone for F1RSTGEN’s outreach efforts, said adviser Dr. George Pacheco Jr.

“The F1RSTGEN student organization is only a few years old and for them to already be earning national recognition for their work on campus and in the community speaks to their dedication to something bigger than themselves,” said Pacheco, an associate professor of communication, who co-advises the organization with Jonathan Cordova, program coordinator for Study Abroad and Nationally Competitive Scholarships. “Each year brings in a new officer leadership team, and each team raises the bar even higher. We are lucky to work with such talented students.”

“As a first-generation student myself, I am very appreciative of this effort,” said WT President Walter V. Wendler. “No matter how intelligent or capable they are, these students benefit from additional support, ultimately having a positive effect across the board at the University.”

As a First-Gen Forward Institution, interested faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First-Gen Forward Workshop slated for early June and will participate in monthly calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the advisory leadership designation. 

“With the addition of the 2022-23 cohort, First-Gen Forward Institutions contribute to a national movement of two- and four-year institutions dedicated to advancing the success of first-generation students, redefining student success as a movement. We commend WT for its leadership and look forward to witnessing continued progress throughout their participation,” said Dr. Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA.

Reflecting and serving the diverse population of the Texas Panhandle, including first-generation students, is a key mission of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at WT, visit To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit

About The Center for First-Generation Student Success 

The Center is the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students. Based in Washington, DC, the Center aims to acknowledge the intersectional experiences of first-generation college students. It offers an outlet for sharing cutting-edge research and current media conversations, opportunities for engagement through online learning, conferences, and events, and access to a bevy of programs and services intended to improve first-generation initiatives across higher education.

About NASPA 

NASPA is a member-centered association supporting a diverse and passionate network of 15,000 professionals and 1,200 institutions across the globe. It is the professional home for the field of student affairs and is dedicated to cultivating student success in collaboration with the missions of its institutional members—a network of colleges and universities representing every sector of higher education.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs, 39 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.