The inaugural Horizons Unlimited Conference was held on Monday, February 26, 2024. The daylong conference was part of FSU’s ongoing commitment to first-generation student success and its emphasis on expanding resources for first-generation students. About a quarter of FSU’s undergraduate population identifies as the first in their families to go to college, with the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) offering resources and support to many of those students.
FSU First Lady Dr. Jai Vartikar proposed the conference, which was planned by first-generation students for first-generation students. The steering committee included Joshua Burns, Kheila Chanza, Jenee Gray, Kephtania Jean Hilaire, Amanda Johnson, Kevin Knowles and Justin Mohabir. The conference offered three main sessions: maximizing the college experience, considering graduate schools, and navigating job searches and career establishment. It also provided networking opportunities with fellow first-generation students, alumni, faculty and university leaders. President Richard McCullough spoke about his own journey as a first-generation student to Florida State University first-generation students at the closing keynote speech. The evening ended with a question-and-answer session between McCullough and FSU Trustee Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz, an alumna and first-generation student. They discussed topics such as imposter syndrome, the importance of building and using networks, and seeking advice from admired professionals.
CARE serves more than 2,500 students annually, providing preparation, orientation, and academic support programming for students who are among the first in their families to attend college and may face unique challenges in college due to educational or economic circumstances.
In late 2023, Florida State University was designated a First Scholars Institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the Suder Foundation that helps higher education institutions transform experiences and outcomes for first-generation students.