Baylor First in Line Program Receives 2024 Bronze NASPA Excellence Award

Baylor’s first-generation student program is recognized by NASPA for its commitment to student success 

March 21, 2024
First generation college students celebrate

First in Line students celebrate National First-Generation College Celebration Day (Robert Rogers/Baylor Photography) 

Contact: Shelby Cefaratti-Bertin, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-327-8012 
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WACO, Texas (March 21, 2024) – Baylor University's First in Line (FIL) program has been selected as the 2024 NASPA Excellence Award Bronze Honoree for First-generation Student Success. The Excellence Awards annually recognize members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs and innovative services. 

First in Line works to provide first-generation students on Baylor’s campus with resources that aid them in navigating being the first person in their immediate family to attend a four-year university. Through programs like First Abroad Fellows, First in Line Success Academy, Bear Textbook Scholarships and First in Line Leadership, the program connects first-generation students with resources and opportunities. 

"To have First in Line recognized nationally is a proud accomplishment, not just for this office, but this institution,” said Michelle Gonzalez, First in Line program manager. “This award recognizes the hard work and commitment Baylor has put forth to support, empower and celebrate our first-generation students.”

First in Line students

The NASPA Excellence Awards were created to recognize student affairs faculty who are developing transformative and data-driven programs in higher education. First in Line was submitted for consideration by Austin Morell, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE).

"I believe this award is a testament to the remarkable work accomplished within the First in Line program," Morell said. "FIL’s successes are a result of the outstanding collaboration and efforts of Michelle Gonzalez and an entire team of student leaders and campus partners. It truly showcases Baylor’s commitment to serving and supporting first-generation college students."

With over 2,000 first-generation students at Baylor, this award marks a pivotal moment in the program’s enduring success and guidance of students.

“I see the continued evolution of efforts and support. No two years have been the same for First in Line in my time here,” Gonzalez said. “We are constantly growing, adapting and striving for a broad and meaningful impact for our first-generation community.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.