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Columbus State invited to inaugural First Scholars Network

Update | Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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The Center for First-generation Student Success, based in Washington, D.C., announced that Columbus State Community College is among the 31 institutions invited to the first cohort of First Scholars Network. The Network is an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation. (NASPA, formerly the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, updated its name to Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.)

Columbus State was selected to join the Network after demonstrating a commitment to advancing the outcomes of first-generation students by improving both first-generation student success initiatives and institution-wide approaches. 

First Scholars backs institutional desire to develop initiatives supporting first-generation students throughout the student lifecycle and beyond. First Scholars draws upon carefully crafted institution-focused and student-centered actionable outcomes designed to deliver these results. And it provides processes, tools, and guidance designed to work within an institution’s environment.

Diana Wisse, executive director of Student Affairs, said, “We already have some great work going on with our faculty-led Generation One Trailblazer (GOT) program coordinated by Ron Elizaga, Trio Programs directed by Lori Billenstein, and several other initiatives. Now we can move this work up to the next level with the additional resources provided by the First Scholars program. This is not a new effort but a continued focus on data-driven decision making that supports the College’s commitment to access and equity.”

“The landscape of first-generation student initiatives is continually shifting alongside the ever-changing needs of our communities, nation, and global society. As part of the First Scholars Network, Columbus State will become a key partner in driving systemic change and looking to the future of first-generation student success," said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. 

First Scholars institutions will partner with the Center for a two-year experience that will provide: 

●Expert guidance and tailored resources converging to support institution-wide systemic transformation and provide on-time, first-generation thought-leader expertise;

●An integrated framework that combines evidence-based and targeted solutions to propel institution-wide systemic transformation and confidently scale holistic student support across the academic career of first-generation students; and,

●Structured, cross-collaborative learning with institutional partners from across the higher education landscape.   

Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories. 

The Center for First-generation Student Success 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. Through four strategic priority areas, the Center drives higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success. 

To learn more about First Scholars and the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit 


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