During her time working in UNT’s TRIO program, Desiree Padron observed that the university needed a resource center for first-generation students to help them navigate through their college experience.

Throughout her 10 years with TRIO, Desiree worked with the Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and Talent Search programs. Time and time again she found that the students she worked with needed assistance solving a problem or sometimes just explaining programs, processes, or policies; which they felt lost about where to go for answers.

Padron, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and secondary education, as well as a master’s degree in public administration at UNT, decided to share her idea for a first-generation center during a listening tour with Elizabeth With, Vice President for Student Affairs.

“I believe representation matters,” said Padron.

First-Gen Success Center Murals

That moment sparked more conversations which led to the creation of the First-Generation Success Center (FGSC), which opened its doors in February.

“Elizabeth was able to propose the idea with the president, which was positively received,” said Melissa McGuire, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs.

Given Padron’s decade of experience in TRIO, not to mention her own experiences as a first-generation student at UNT, Padron was a natural fit to lead the FGSC.

“As a first-generation Latina from a modest background leading by example; hopefully it will encourage students to become involved in their communities as professionals and individuals to create change,” she said.

The university’s First-Generation Success Center opened in February. The center guides UNT students who classify as a first-generation college student, or an individual whose parents did not complete a 4-year college degree. The center offers programs and services that help students navigate around areas such as career exploration, academic support, graduate school, leadership development, financial aid, leadership development, and more.

As director, Padron wants to establish the FGSC name and service recognition to impact more students, provide first-generation scholarships, create a first-generation advisory board, receive First-Gen Forward university designation, and expand the college experience for first-generation students.

For more information on the First-Generation Student Success Center, visit https://studentaffairs.unt.edu/first-generation-success-center