Navigating the college experience can be daunting for new students. For first-generation students—who will be the first in their family to complete a four-year degree—it is often confusing and overwhelming.

California State University, Chico will look to help its first-generation students during its second annual First-Gen Trailblazer Symposium. This two-day conference takes place today, February 22, from 1 to 6 p.m. and Friday, February 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Organized by CSU, Chico’s First-Gen Faculty and Staff Association and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the two-day symposium features panels, roundtable sessions and moderated discussions in multiple locations across campus, including the Student Services Center, Colusa Hall and Selvester’s Café. A full event schedule is available here.

More than half of CSU, Chico students identify as first-generation, and many arrive on campus with little knowledge of how to navigate their path to graduation. By building community, identifying paths to success (complete with campus resources), and exploring effective learning strategies, the University aims to help these students thrive during their CSU, Chico experience.

“Our goal was to highlight the strength and resilience of this population on campus and also come together as a community to share best practices,” said Tasha Alexander, project director in Student Support Services, as well as a member of CSU, Chico’s First-Gen Faculty and Staff Association.

With more than a dozen panels and discussions, this week’s symposium will speak to more than students, with workshops and activities that also appeal to first-generation faculty and staff, as well as allies to the entire first-generation campus community.

“I see the symposium as an important opportunity for all first-gen folks to come together, recognize our shared backgrounds and commit to working together in meeting first-gen need—especially those of students,” said Dave Brown from CSU, Chico’s First-Gen Faculty and Staff Association and professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.

Milton Lang, a first-generation college student, a proud CSU, Chico graduate, and the University’s vice president for Student Affairs, will welcome students today at the symposium’s opening. CSU, Chico President Gayle E. Hutchinson, who is also a first-generation college graduate, will provide remarks on Friday afternoon.

Alexander said she hopes current first-generation students are inspired by the 120 members of CSU, Chico’s First Gen Faculty and Staff Association.

“We also want to learn more from our first-gen students so that we can ensure that our institution is as inclusive and supportive as possible,” she said.

For more information on the First-Gen Trailblazer Symposium, contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 530-898-4764 or by visiting www.csuchico.edu/diversity/associations/first-gen/index.shtml.