SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP )- Wednesday was National First-Generation College Celebration Day and American International College recognized its students with a campus-wide celebration.

This celebration was dedicated to recognizing the countless achievements of students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

“My mom didn’t go to college, my dad didn’t go to college, they just worked really hard. They put a lot on the line for me and I know they made crazy sacrifices for me to get here,” said Josh Mickulski, an AIC Freshman.

“Out of all the women in my family, like being the first one to go to college, it means a lot and it means a lot to my family. So that’s why I take every opportunity I have and I don’t take anything for granted because I’m really grateful to be here,” said DK Nasso, an AIC Junior.

DK says she’s grateful for her mom’s unconditional support, saying that her mom ultimately opened the door for her to be able to receive a higher education even though she couldn’t.

First generation students makeup up more than 35 percent of the student population at AIC.

Alex Cross, the Dean of Student Success, and a first generation student told 22News about the importance of providing students with the resources they need to be successful, “These students often times don’t have the networks that other students that have parents who had gone to college. So they don’t come prepared in knowing all the answers, they don’t always know how to navigate their financial aid of their academic advising. So I think it’s important to celebrate them and acknowledge them but also connect them with mentors that can help them thrive.”

Cross said he hopes that students know that the option to pursue a higher education is always on the table.

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