About Us

First-generation UCI faculty prepared to support students facing the same challenges they once overcame include (from left) Davin Phoenix, Anita Casavantes Bradford, Manoj Kaplinghat, David Igler and Glenda Flores. Steve Zylius / UCI

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Beginning in 2014, the First-Generation Faculty (FGF) Initiative was founded under the auspices of the UCI Department of Undergraduate Education (DUE). The FGF is a collaborative faculty network, comprised of professors of all ranks in all of UC Irvine’s schools/departments, who self-identify as first-generation college students or as advocates of our first generation student population.

In support of this First-Generation Faculty Initiative, faculty members work together in order to:

  1. Raise positive awareness about the strong presence of first generation students, who represent approximately sixty percent of undergraduate students at the University of California Irvine.
  2. Foster a campus climate that welcomes first generation students, acknowledges and works to overcome the challenges they face in their pursuit of academic success and wellbeing, and celebrates their work ethic, perseverance, and accomplishments.
  3. Provide information and encouragement to first generation students in identifying and making strategic use of support services currently available on campus, through the office of Student Support Services, the Transfer Student Center, as well as the Cross-Cultural Center, SOAR center, and other student-led organizations.
  4. Create spaces for faculty-initiated discussion about how department- and school-specific policies and practices can best facilitate first- generation students’ academic success and wellbeing, and to encourage department and School level initiatives to support “First- Generation” students.


Joanna M. Hernandez, Assistant Director, Student Success Initiatives


Joanna was born in Houston, Texas and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She is passionate about empowering historically underrepresented students in thriving in higher education and achieving a lifetime of success. She completed her Masters in Higher and Postsecondary Education from the University of Michigan and her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Latin American and Iberian Studies. Prior to her current appointment, Joanna worked as a TRIO SSS project director, assisting first generation, low-income students in maximizing their educational experience. Joanna's graduate research focused on the first generation student experience, intersectionality, and identity development.  If you have any questions about the TRIO Scholars Program at UC Irvine or are interested in participating please contact Joanna Hernandez.

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Office: 2200 Student Services II
E-mail: joanna.hernandez@uci.edu

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