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Each year on November 8, the Chaiken Center hosts the college’s First-Generation Student Celebration as part of the national celebration by the same name. But our first-generation activities aren’t limited to one day a year. The Chaiken Center hosts workshops, brings in first-generation alumni speakers, and organizes meet and greets for first-generation Liberal Arts students throughout the year. 

Nearly 25 percent of Penn State undergraduate students are the first in their families to graduate from college. The Chaiken Center is your place to find support and resources for first-generation students in the college. We also partner with Penn State’s Student Success Center to help students find their community and resources to help them navigate college as a first-gen student.

Who are first-generation students?

A student whose immediate parents or legal guardians have not completed a baccalaureate degree.

Four Liberal Arts students pose with Dean Lang (center) in front of a College of the Liberal Arts backdrop in the Chaiken Center during the Liberal Arts First-Gen Celebration on November 8, 2022.
Four Liberal Arts students pose with Dean Lang (center) in front of a College of the Liberal Arts backdrop in the Chaiken Center during the Liberal Arts First-Gen Celebration on November 8, 2022.
“Both my parents are from Russia and came to America with $100 in cash and a dream. They are living the American dream sending their son to school. Getting help with tuition has allowed me to be financially stable because the burden is lessened thanks to the Chaikens. Their financial support has made college great for me and a place where I am able to explore all my passions.”
Frolenko, Victor
Victor Frolenko

First-Generation Committee

In the fall of 2022, the Chaiken Center for Student Success formed a First-Gen Committee of students, faculty, and staff to provide greater support and community to the first-gen population in the College of the Liberal Arts. Thirty-two members are currently involved in the committee.

Our Mission

To engage and support Liberal Arts first-gen students by identifying their needs and informing our student success efforts. We are also building a sense of community and belonging around the identity of first-generation college students.

Interested in learning more or joining the committee? Email Patty Klug, director of the Chaiken Center, at pfk5256@psu.edu.

University Support

First-Gen Advocates

First-Gen Advocates (FGA) is a registered student organization that aims to amplify first-gen students’ voices while building a community for first-gen students at Penn State. FGA and the University’s Student Success Center offer personal, leadership, and career development opportunities. The organization’s student leaders provide important resources to support student success and host social events for first-generation students to network and connect.

panel member speaking into a microphone
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Tri-Alpha National Honor Society

Alpha Alpha Alpha, or Tri-Alpha, is an honor society for first-generation students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The Eta Psi chapter at Penn State University Park hosts an application process each year, opening on November 8 (National First-Gen College Celebration Day) and closing in February. Selected applicants are invited to an induction ceremony typically held in late April. In April 2024, Patty Klug, director of the Chaiken Center; Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts; and Ali Roman, a 2024 Psychology alumna, were inducted into Tri-Alpha. 

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Director, Chaiken Center for Student Success
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