Jackson State University’s TRIO Programs to host THEE First-Gen Renaissance Celebration

 JSU’s Student Success and TRIO Programs have partnered to host “THEE First-Gen Renaissance – You Won’t Break Our Soul,” Nov. 7- 11, 2022. The event, inspired by Beyoncé’s hit single “Break My Soul,” will celebrate the success of first-generation (first-gen) college students, faculty, staff & alums.



Associate Vice President for Student Success Mitchell Shears, Ed.D., is a self-described proud first-generation graduate. “I am excited that our TRIO program directors have planned an exciting week where first-gen students get to celebrate their college milestones. We want to empower them not to let anyone break their soul, dreams, or goals of completing a bachelor’s degree,” he said.

In conjunction with the National First-Generation College Celebration, the week-long event will showcase first-gen societal contributions while providing resolutions to issues commonly found within the first-gen population. JSU first-gen students will be exposed to mental health and social justice awareness, entrepreneurship 101, problem-solving strategies, and other campus resources to assist them during their college life experience.


First-generation college students, defined as students whose parents have not received a bachelor’s degree, make up one-third of all college students in the U. S. 

“Being a first-gen college graduate is important to me because I can relate to our student population and can assist them with navigating the college experience. Our primary responsibility is to assist them in becoming informed, thoughtful, and productive individuals and citizens,” Shears said.



The AVP further explained why THEE First-Gen Renaissance theme was based on “Break My Soul,” which discusses looking for motivation and a new foundation. 

Shears said the lyrics apply to everyone, but especially first-gen students. He wants them to realize that JSU is where they can build their own foundation and create a pathway to a fulfilling career or attend graduate school. 

First-gen senior Justin Walls believes the event is a great idea. “It offers a sense of community of students with a shared background. I also think it is important for first-generation graduates to tell their stories and show how they did not waver despite challenges they may have encountered so they can continue to inspire future generations,” said the media and journalism studies major.  

The annual national celebration occurs on Nov. 8 to acknowledge and elevate first-generation college students and alumni contributions. If you want to know more about how you can get involved at JSU, visit First-Generation College Celebration. 0