November 8 is recognized nationally as First-Generation College Celebration Day, which is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating students who are the first in their families to attend college and promoting educational access.

Dr. Frank E. Ross III, PhD
Vice President for Student Affairs, Butler University

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role at Butler.
I am a proud first-generation college graduate who, after completing my bachelor’s degree, went on to earn two master’s degrees and a doctorate. My entire career has been spent in higher education administration, and I am excited to be in my seventh academic year at Butler University. I serve as Butler’s chief student affairs officer, which gives me the amazing privilege and incredible responsibility for our students outside of the classroom—ensuring a robust and intentional campus experience that supports our students and their success.

What types of activities or opportunities does your department provide to empower students and help students achieve their goals?
The Division of Student Affairs provides many opportunities for engagement and learning outside of the classroom. Our comprehensive programs and services support our students’ holistic well-being and personal development. Through BU|BeWell, we foster a positive environment that helps students grow, learn, and be the best version of themselves.

What does being a first-generation graduate mean to you?
Being a first-generation college graduate holds immense significance for me. It represents achieving a milestone that will have a lasting impact on future generations, and symbolizes determination to overcome challenges. It brings a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that I’ve set an example for others in my family and my community to pursue higher education and broaden their horizons for a brighter future.

What piece of advice would you share with incoming first-generation college students?
Being a first-generation student and attending college represents a transformative experience in your life. It is your superpower! Remember that we are here for you, supporting you and cheering you along the entire way. This journey will teach you resilience, determination, and the power of self-belief. It’s not just about pursuing a degree; it’s about breaking down barriers, setting an example for future generations, and proving that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.

To our current and future first-gen students, know that we believe in you. You are welcome here; you belong here, and we want you here. Butler is better because of you!