The Gen1 inaugural conference at Eastern Kentucky University will take place on Friday, Nov. 8. 

The goal of the one-day conference is to “help the attendees learn from experts who are experienced in working with first generation college students,” said Sierrah Anderson, the NOVA project director at EKU. 

Anderson said that about 200 professionals in the field from middle schools, high schools and places of post-secondary education, as well as from non-profit organizations are expected to attend. 

The conference will “help professionals in education help first generation students,” Anderson said. 

“The conference is important because EKU serves so many first-generation college students, and not just them, but their families and communities,” said Heather Davis, the assistant director of academic testing and readiness at EKU. 

Davis specificied that the conference is not just about helping high schoolers get to college. 

“The conference, and the goal for first generation students, is not only about college attendance, but about retention and success,” Davis said. “It is great to get students to attend college, but college graduation means they have reached the goal they set for themselves.” 

The idea for conference came about from the work of a task force formed in the fall of 2018, Anderson said. The task force was established with the purpose of better serving first generation college students, who make up around 40 percent of EKU’s student body. 

Though the largest group of speakers at the conference are from EKU, the conference agenda at shows presenters and keynote speakers from more than 15 different educational institutions. 

Several people from EKU are presenting sessions relating their field to educating first generation students. There are also speakers from Ashland Community and Technical College, Bellarmine University, University of Kentucky Area Health Education Center, Berea College, University of Pikeville, Indiana University Northwest, University of Louisville and Morehead State University. For a full list of presenters, visit

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