LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Reflective of a national increase in first-generation students pursuing higher education, “first-gen” students made up 22% of Biola University’s incoming class this fall. This week, Biola will join hundreds of higher education institutions, corporations, nonprofits and K-12 schools to recognize the achievements of the first-gen community. Inspired by the resilient FirstGen stories on Biola’s campus, the week’s theme is “First to Finish: Running with Endurance.”

According to the Center of First-Generation Student Success, one in three undergraduates of nearly five million students in the United States identify as first-generation. In 2016, when Biola’s FirstGen Scholars program first launched, there were only 28 students. Now, the program serves over 138 students.

For three consecutive years, Biola has achieved a special status for the institution’s commitment to first-generation student success. Selected as a member of the 2023-24 First-gen Forward cohort by The Center for First-Generation Student Success — a national initiative — Biola is among an elite group of schools which strive to serve college students who are the first in their family to graduate from a United States higher education institution.

Biola’s weeklong celebration is November 3-8, with hopes to instill encouragement to the individuals of FirstGen to endure in their journeys as they navigate college and professional life.

This year’s events include:

  • FirstGen Image of God Chapel: Friday, Nov. 3 — Three FirstGen students in Game Design, Sociology and Communication Studies shared their stories about endurance.

  • First to Finish Luncheon: Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 12-1:30 p.m. at Fluor Fountain. President Dr. Barry H. Corey and Provost Matt Hall alongside a panel of FirstGen faculty will share their journeys of endurance over a free lunch.

  • First to Finish Festival: Nov. 8 from 6-8:00 p.m. at Lot F Tent (near Fluor Fountain). The festival will provide dinner from the Kogi Taco Truck, desserts, an obstacle course bounce house, a photo booth and a resource fair. Students, staff, faculty and family members are all welcome.

Biola’s FirstGen Program aims to equip and empower students who are the first in their families to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the United States. FirstGen students are offered a wide range of resources and community to guarantee success for the future.

In 2017, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the Center for First-generation Student Success launched an annual celebration where hundreds of higher education institutions, corporations, nonprofits and K-12 schools joined together to recognize the achievements of the first-gen community on and around November 8.

For media interviews, contact Sarah Dougher, on-site media contact, at

Written by Reina Lee, University Communications Public Relations Intern. For more information, contact Media Relations at