Return to All News

Atlantic Cape Hosts Local High School and College Students at 2nd Annual First-Generation Student Conference

03/25/2024 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
Students attending Atlantic Cape's 2nd Annual First-Generation Student Conference

MAYS LANDING — More than 120 students from several local colleges, universities and high schools took part in the 2nd Annual First-Generation Student Conference, “Maximizing Your College Experience,” at Atlantic Cape’s Mays Landing campus on March 21.

Sponsored by Atlantic Cape’s Student Support Services department, the day’s program included students from Atlantic Cape, Rowan College of South Jersey, Stockton University, Camden County College, Pleasantville High School and Atlantic City High School.

“This conference should be a staple at all schools in the State of New Jersey because you are the most important group that we serve. Oftentimes you hear of the struggles that a first-generation student goes through and they are very true. I have been through it and we all have had those struggles,” said Dr. Natalie Devonish, vice president, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “As a first-generation student it means that you are going to blaze a trail and a path that no one else has ever done. Today we are going to highlight the many successes and support services that you have that others don’t have and that is a benefit that you will be reminded of throughout the day.”

Dr. Joshua Fredenburg speaks to the students Keynote speaker Dr. Joshua Fredenburg, an internationally-acclaimed speaker and author of several books on leadership, relationships, issues and solutions to real-world, real-life challenges, and more, gave a passionate and highly-energetic presentation on overcoming adversity, rising to a challenge, staying motivated, and ultimately succeeding in college and in life.

After an unsuccessful attempt at making his college men’s basketball team left him despondent and devastated, Fredenburg spoke of embracing the challenge of the college experience.

“College changed my life. There, I found my calling and I wanted to be a motivational speaker. It changed my life because I was actively involved in the college experience, I was focused and I had a vision,” said Dr. Fredenburg, who is also Founder and President of The Circle of Change Leadership Experience, which is a national leadership development program that has reached over 2,000 culturally-diverse students from more than 150 colleges and universities from all across the country over the past 10 years. “I turned my failure into a successful journey because I knew what I wanted to do, but it was college that gave me direction.”

With emotion and enthusiasm, Dr. Fredenburg implored the students to embrace the process of attending college, not because it is easy, but because it is hard and a new challenge to tackle. By remaining resilient the students will build character, which will lead to their final goal.

“Every problem is a gift. We must persevere and learn from it. Without it we do not grow because it takes work and discipline to succeed,” said Dr. Fredenburg. “Place yourself in an environment that empowers you. Connect and build relationships with this community. Get involved on campus and reach your full potential. And, part of being first is being a pioneer!”

Eric Stewart speaks to the students during a breakout sessionFollowing the keynote address, the students attended two rounds of four, 50-minute breakout sessions with Atlantic Cape staff members on topics including “Mental Health: Self-Care is Self-Love,” “Financial Literacy: Make it Make Cents,” “First-Gen/First Year Women: Keeping it Real,” and “First-Gen/First Year Men: Engagement, Mentoring & Retention.”

The students were treated to lunch before rounding out the day with a student panel discussion in the Walter Edge Theater.

View a photo gallery of this event here.

Visit for more information on Atlantic Cape’s Student Support Services.



About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape Community College is a Middle States accredited, 2022 Achieving the Dream Leader College and Hispanic Serving Institution proudly serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. As a comprehensive, two-year community college, Atlantic Cape offers 47 undergraduate degree programs, and 33 certificate and workforce development professional series programs at its Mays Landing, Atlantic City and Cape May campuses. Atlantic Cape is home to the renowned Academy of Culinary Arts, rated the top culinary school in New Jersey, and for more than 50 years, our highly-acclaimed Nursing program. Atlantic Cape also partners with more than 30 colleges and four-year universities to offer students the opportunity to seamlessly earn a bachelor’s degree upon graduation.