First-Generation Students Succeed at KSU


Kennesaw State’s record-breaking enrollment this fall includes nearly one-third who identify as first-generation college students. In fact, among our newest class, that number is close to 40 percent.

At Kennesaw State, putting students first is part of our DNA, and it is especially important as we educate and help guide those who may need some extra support on their journey toward earning a college degree. Programs such as our First-Gen living-learning village and First-Gen Owls registered student organization are places where these students can connect and build lasting relationships.

Additionally, the University offers two programs – Thrive and Achieve Atlanta – which have been helping first-gen and other students build a foundation for success.

Thrive, a KSU initiative, is designed to help students transition more easily to college while providing the support they need to help maintain the HOPE scholarship. Achieve Atlanta is a program that helps students from Atlanta Public Schools enroll in college and ultimately earn their degrees. Recently, the University received a $2 million grant from the Goizueta Foundation to help expand both of these programs.

The Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars Program is another KSU program that provides scholarships and support services to first-generation college students. Supported by a $1.25 million contribution from The Coca-Cola Foundation, this initiative funds college expenses for first-generation students.

Each of these programs have brought measurable benefits to students like:

  • Jamie Lowe is a psychology major, THRIVE leader, resident advisor and a Coca-Cola Scholar. She moved to the U.S. from Zimbabwe and employs her own experience in adjusting to college life to help other first-year students.
  • Johana Figueroa Morales is a Coca-Cola Scholar who had to delay her education for a semester when she was deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait as a combat medic with the Georgia Army National Guard in 2019. Today, she is nursing major.
  • Austin Morris is a sport management major and Achieve Atlanta Scholar. He has started an internship with a company and is writing news articles and PR reports for the organization. Austin is expecting to graduate spring 2021 with a 3.5 GPA.

As long as there are first-generation students striving to make their lives better with higher education, everyone at Kennesaw State will continue to do what we can to help them succeed.

Pamela Whitten


Written By Whitten