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  • Writer's pictureBiola University

Biola University Receives National Recognition for FirstGen Student Success


Photo Courtesy of Biola University.

This article was originally written by Reina Lee and published on biola.edu on October 09, 2023.


For the third consecutive year, Biola University has achieved a special status for the institution’s commitment to first-generation student success. Selected as a member of the 2023-24 First-gen Forward cohort by The Center for First-Generation Student Success — a national initiative — Biola is among an elite group of schools striving to serve college students who are the first in their family to graduate from a United States higher education institution.


“We are proud to once again receive national recognition for Biola’s FirstGen programs. We are proud to be an institution advancing the outcomes for our remarkable first-generation students,” said Biola President Barry H. Corey. “We at Biola are devoted to preparing our students for success in both academics and co-curricular activities, as well as when they leave Biola and enter into fruitful careers and impact the world for Christ.”


Biola is one of only four Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to receive this national recognition. Recently, the institution’s consistent efforts in championing its first-generation students through the Biola FirstGen program have been recognized by offering the option for Biola to progress the institution’s status from “FirstGen Forward” to “FirstGen Scholars” phase.


“We're honored to receive this national recognition as a First-Gen Forward Institution for the third year in a row for leading the way in excellence, service and commitment to our FirstGen students,” said Carla Logie (’16), assistant director of Student Enrichment and Intercultural Department and FirstGen Programs.


As of 2023, first-generation college students are comprised of 22% of Biola’s incoming class. Biola’s FirstGen Scholars program launched in 2016 with 28 students. Today, the program serves over 138 students.


“It is truly a career highlight to support the growth and flourishing of our FirstGen Program. I am proud of our new team as they continue this important work,” said Tamra J. Malone (’05), Biola’s Chief Diversity Officer. “I am encouraged by their hard work and dedication to maintaining a spirit of excellence and service to our first-generation college students. I am also thankful for campus partners who link arms with us in the service and education of our students.”


The First-generation Forward Designation recognizes institutions of higher education who are committed to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Biola’s current standing as a member of the “First-gen Forward” phase indicates that Biola has worked to customize solutions and improve plans to meet the goals of the university’s first-generation students. Hallmarks of Biola’s FirstGen program include cultivated living communities for first-generation students, individual success coaching sessions and 10 workshops and events held to support students throughout the year.


“Since its inception in 2016, the FirstGen Program has supported the transition and transformation of first-generation students,” said Logie. “Today, as both a staff member and FirstGen graduate myself, I can proudly say that we continue to empower and support student access, belonging and retention at Biola.”


Biola’s Summer Bridge Program also experienced “landmark growth” this year, according to Logie. Biola’s Summer Bridge Program is a one-week event meant to ease the transition into college life and help incoming FirstGen students feel connected and confident about their upcoming college journey. Ranging from mentorship opportunities, college success workshops and community events, this program now supports 63 incoming students and 40 second-year scholars, representing more than 60% of the program's overall expansion. As of 2023, the FirstGen Program has also expanded to include each first-generation student at Biola which includes about 700 students.


The mission of Biola’s FirstGen Scholars Program is to enhance the ability of first generation college students to thrive and persist while at Biola through strategic holistic support. Students selected for the program participate in a week-long summer bridge program and live in Blackstone Hall. In addition, they enroll in a Bible course during the fall, attend cohort connection activities, participate in faculty and peer mentoring, academic and career coaching and also attend a kick-off event during orientation week at the start of the school year.


Joy Ackock, a freshman Communication Sciences Disorders major and first-generation scholar has been personally impacted by the program.


“I came into Summer Bridge not knowing what to expect but left feeling empowered in my ability to succeed at Biola,” said Ackock. “Throughout the week, SEID staff worked hard to ensure we were aware of campus resources and knew how to utilize them to our advantage. In the same way, the seminars provided useful information on a variety of topics. Each activity fostered community and was purposefully designed to aid in our transition as FirstGen students. I not only gained helpful insight but began to cultivate meaningful relationships with other students, mentors and faculty. I am incredibly grateful for the staff who made this week possible!”


As a First-Gen Forward Institution, Biola’s FirstGen program coordinators will continue to receive professional development, community-building experiences and a first look at the The Center for First-Generation Student Success research and resources.


Learn more about the FirstGen program at Biola. View a video showcasing Biola’s latest Summer Bridge program.

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