The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, recently announced Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo as one of 76 new members of the First Scholars Network for 2023-24. To be selected as a First Scholars Network member, Ivy Tech Kokomo displayed a demonstrated commitment to improving experiences and advancing success for first-generation college students.

“We are extremely honored to be selected as a First Scholars Network Member by the Center for First-generation Student Success,” said Dr. Theresa Murphy, vice chancellor for Student Success for Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Service Area. “From the first point of engagement with our admissions team through to graduation, we want our students who will be the first in their families to graduate from college to know that our campus community is here to support and celebrate them.”

The Kokomo Campus is the first Ivy Tech Community College service area to gain this recognition.

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.

“Becoming a first-generation college student is a unique and memorable experience. I know because I am a proud first-generation college graduate,” said Tashona Jones, Ivy Tech Kokomo’s director of student success and retention who works with many of the College’s first-generation students.  “It is exciting to be a part of a network that will guide us in promoting increased awareness about our first-gen population as well as how to support them to meet their educational goals.”

Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, vice president with the Center for First-generation Student Success, said the center is pleased to welcome Ivy Tech Kokomo into the First Scholars Network.

“Through the application process, it was evident that Ivy Tech Kokomo is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster an environment of success for this important population,” Whitley said.

 In this first phase of the First Scholars Network, selected institutions participated in the First Scholars Network Virtual Kick-off on June 2. 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.

After successful completion of the Network Member phase, institutions progress to the second phase, First-gen Forward, after which they are eligible to become a First Scholars Institution. First Scholars is the third phase of the First Scholars Network and serves as the center’s customized approach to intentional institutional transformation in an effort to advance student outcomes. Ultimately, all network institutions strive for national leadership as a First Scholars Champion Campus.

Being named as a network member of the First Scholars Network is an exciting opportunity for Ivy Tech Kokomo 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 Ivy Tech Kokomo will be a significant contributor.”

 To learn more about first-generation efforts at Ivy Tech Kokomo, contact Tashona Jones at To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.