Opened in Spring 2021, the First-Generation Success Center was created to provide resources and support to help first-generation students navigate college life. The center’s efforts earned the University of North Texas the First-Gen Forward accreditation in 2022. With nearly 40% of UNT’s undergraduate population identifying as first-generation students, support for this program is important for their success and perseverance—support from partners like Capital One.
In 2021, over $70 million was donated to more than 1,800 nonprofits to support economic opportunities within the community as part of the Capital One Impact Initiative—including a $13,000 grant given to UNT’s First-Generation Success Center. The funding supported the First-Gen to Full-Time Career Summit, held in Fall 2022, which provided guidance for students transitioning from being first-generation college students to becoming full-time members of the professional workforce.
“Capital One is proud to support the University of North Texas in creating pathways to a sustainable financial future for all first-generation students,” said Catherine Lovett, principal project manager for social innovation at Capital One.
The summit featured two keynotes from UNT alumni Monica Shortino, director of social innovation for Capital One, and Stephanie Webb, senior digital media analyst for the City of Celina, as well as eight workshops, a resume review, a first-generation professionals Q&A panel and a networking mixer with over 20 first-generation professionals from Capital One. More than 130 students attended the summit, including senior human resources management major Viridiana Soliz.
“Thank you for sharing the perfect Capital One members with us,” said Soliz. “They were extremely approachable, friendly and full of helpful information.”
Soliz earned her associate’s degree after immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico back in 2008, but after getting married and having children earning a four-year degree seemed almost impossible. However, she was determined to set an example for her daughters and fulfill the dream that her father, who did not have the opportunity to receive an education, had for his children. The support offered through the First-Generation Success Center is a significant asset to first-generation students, like Soliz, who are often unfamiliar with the resources available to them and may become overwhelmed.
“It can be crippling to ask for help if we don’t even know where to ask for it,” said Soliz.
Capital One furthered their commitment to first-generation students at UNT by giving a $15,000 grant to the First-Generation Success Center. The funding will support the graduation stole and career readiness programs, as well as First-Gen Career Week, happening later this month on March 27-30. Presented in partnership with Capital One and the UNT Career Center, First-Gen Career Week will feature a full week of in-person and virtual workshops, panels and networking opportunities.
“The intentionality of not only their funding but their time and expertise further exemplifies their commitment to building and creating actual change,” said Desiree Padron, director of the First-Generation Success Center. “We are so grateful to CapitalOne and their associates for seeing the immense potential of our students as professionals and community leaders.”