NTC Joins First Scholars Network for Service to First-generation Students

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, recently announced Northwest Technical College and Bemidji State University is among seventy-six new members of the First Scholars Network for 2023-24. To be selected as a First Scholars Network member, NTC and BSU displayed a demonstrated commitment to improving experiences and advancing success for first-generation college students.

“I am deeply grateful to The Center for First-generation College Student Success for their recognition of the amazing and special work that NTC and BSU do in serving first-generation college students,” said John L. Hoffman, president of NTC and BSU. “Since our beginnings, NTC and BSU have taken a different path than most colleges and universities by choosing to serve first-generation college students. We’ve taken pride in helping them earn college degrees, gain access to higher quality jobs and change the future of their families.”

Approximately half of NTC and BSU students are first-generation college students, meaning that their parents do not have college degrees.

Powered by the Center for First-generation Student Success, the First Scholars Network is a four-phase approach that allows institutions of higher education to advance student success through establishing communities of practice, gaining knowledge of resources and establishing peer networks. More than 350 institutions of higher education have entered the Network, representing 49 states and the District of Columbia.

“The Center is pleased to welcome BSU and NTC into the First Scholars Network,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, vice president with the Center for First-generation Student Success. “Through the application process, it was evident that both institutions are only taking steps to serve first-generation students but are prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster an environment of success for this important population.”

Hoffman recognized the work of Travis Greene, vice president for student life and success at NTC and BSU, Dr. Ketmani Kouanchau, executive vice president at NTC, and members of the institutions’ student success teams for their efforts in securing this recognition from The Center for First-generation College Student Success and the doors it will open for the schools’ current and future students.

“Being a part of the First Scholars Network is not only recognition for the important work we’re doing, it provides us with access to research, best practices and a network of professionals at other institutions that have prioritized serving first-generation college students as a part of their mission.”

As a Network Member, interested faculty and staff are afforded opportunities to engage with peer institutions also working to create environments that improve the experiences and success of first-generation students, and will participate in monthly calls, professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting and more.

“Being named as a Network Member of the First Scholars Network is an exciting opportunity for BSU and NTC to join a dedicated community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country,” said Dr. Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA. “We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the Class of 2023 Network Members and know BSU and NTC will be significant contributors.”

About the Center for First-Generation Student Success

The Center is transforming higher education to drive first-generation student success effectively and equitably across education, career and life. We provide data, training and expertise for a growing network of colleges and universities around the country to scale and sustain the important work of serving first-generation students. The Center aims to acknowledge the intersectional experiences of first-generation college students. It offers an outlet for sharing cutting-edge research and current media conversations, opportunities for engagement through online learning, conferences, events and access to a bevy of programs and services intended to improve first-generation initiatives across higher education.


NASPA is a member-centered association supporting a diverse and passionate network of 15,000 professionals and 1,200 institutions across the globe. It is the professional home for the field of student affairs and is dedicated to cultivating student success in collaboration with the missions of its institutional members—a network of colleges and universities representing every sector of higher education.