At Cumberland University, the heartbeat of our campus resonates with the stories of trailblazers—over 25% of our student body comprises first-generation students, courageous individuals who are charting new territories in their families. As we commemorate National First-Generation Student Day, we want to highlight the extraordinary students and triumphs that make our student body a melting pot of diversity and resilience.
Our campus thrives on the strength of our community which lies,in part, in the unique experiences that first-generation students bring. They are pioneers, dreamers, and dedicated workers who have embarked on the journey of higher education, often without a familial roadmap.
National First-Generation Student Day is not just a celebration; it’s a recognition of resilience. Many of our students face unique challenges, from navigating the complexities of financial aid to acclimating to the academic rigors of college life. Yet, they persevere, proving that with grit and support, any obstacle can be overcome.
Cumberland alumna, Danielle Walden, shared her experience as a first-generation Tennessee Promise student.
“Growing up, I didn’t know if college was going to be financially possible,” she shared. “Cumberland relieved the financial burden that many first generation college students face by offering the Tennessee Promise scholarship. The university’s generous financial aid allowed me to focus on academic success, rather than worrying about how I would pay for tuition and books. The academic support offered in the form of tutoring and career services helped guide me through my higher education journey and prepare me for life after college.”
As we come together to celebrate stories like Danielle’s, CU remains fiercely committed to supporting our first-generation students. Whether it’s through internshipship programs, resource centers, or financial aid, Cumberland University takes pride in fostering an environment where all students can thrive, regardless of their background.
Walden, now a few years removed from earning her bachelor’s, is pursuing a Master of Public Service Management at Cumberland.
“Cumberland’s commitment to increasing access to higher education for first generation students like me is a game changer,” she said. “Cumberland has played a significant role in shaping me into who I am today, and continues to prepare me to lead an impactful life, both personally and professionally.”
First generation students like Danielle are an integral part to the heart of the Phoenix. While November 8th has passed on the calendar, Cumberland will always celebrate those trailblazers, setting a precedent of perseverance in education for years to come.