Sophomore first-gen students at a Cardinal First dinner event.

Cardinal First Events

We know that, as the first one in your family to go to college, you will want some help keeping track of what you need to do and what to expect. Starting with your first year, we offer events designed to guide you through every stage of your college journey.

First-year, first-generation students are welcome to join other first-year, first-generation students on the first Friday of every month for a free lunch and a workshop. You can read more details below.

We also offer Cardinal First Transition for new first-generation transfer students during their first term at North Central. It’s a series of four interactive lunch workshops to help make you comfortable and productive here at your new home.

First-generation events continue twice a term through your sophomore, junior and senior years with Cardinal First SophoMORE Suppers, Cardinal First Penultimate and Cardinal First Homestretch. The program culminates with a first-gen pinning ceremony before commencement—a special celebration for you and your family.

Read on below and find the events that are right for you, then contact us at cardinalfirst@noctrl.edu or 630-637-5155 to find out more.

Cardinal First Fridays

Interactive monthly lunch workshops on the first Friday of each month


First-generation faculty members share their stories, and you’ll get guidance on first-year experiences from our Cardinal First Ambassadors—first-generation students who have been where you are. We will cover the basics like time management and preparing for exams; personal and emotional issues, such as managing stress and interacting with other students; and specifics, like how to register for classes and tips on how to make the most of your summer.

Professor Karl Kelley talking to students at a Cardinal First event.

First Friday Workshop Topics

  • September - Time management (using a planner/calendar) & organizing for success
  • October - Taking advantage of campus opportunities
  • November - Preparing for final exams: study skills & reducing test anxiety; academic integrity
  • January - Stress management/life balance
  • February - Building a winning résumé
  • March - Classroom and campus etiquette (including email etiquette)
  • April - Working with your advisor/registering for classes; understanding your program evaluation in Merlin
  • May - Making the most of your three college summers; building your network
  • June - Goal setting and preparing to go home

Continuing Cardinal First Programs


Your unique journey as a first-generation student continues even after your first year, and so do our Cardinal First programs. We are with you all along your way, checking in each year and providing more and more tools for success as you go.

Dean Lisa Long gives out advice to students at a Cardinal First Sophomore Supper.

Cardinal First Sophomore Suppers

Interactive, one-hour suppers held twice per trimester with a first-generation faculty or staff member serving as table host with 8-10 sophomores per table. Each table host brings a picture of him or herself when they were a sophomore in college. The format is a 40-minute supper and fellowship followed by a 20-minute interactive workshop, concluding with table groups competing in a trivia contest guessing which quiz statement applies to which first-generation faculty or staff guest. At the end of the year, the first-generation sophomores have a Halfway to Graduation Celebration with half-sandwiches, half-cookies and Arnold Palmers, and each attendee receives a “Halfway There” half-mug.


Cardinal First Penultimate

Interactive lunch workshops for first-generation juniors offered twice per trimester at three consecutive times. Topics include planning for the summer after junior year, making yourself distinctive and interesting by building your skills and experiences, managing imposter syndrome and more.


Cardinal First Homestretch

Interactive lunch workshops for first-generation seniors offered twice per trimester at three consecutive times. The culminating activity is the Cardinal First Graduation Recognition & Pinning Ceremony held the day before Commencement. At this event, each first-generation graduate asks a faculty or staff member who was an important part of his or her college journey to present the graduate with a Cardinal First pin that will be worn at graduation.


Cardinal First Transition

A series of four interactive lunch workshops for first-generation transfer students during their first term at North Central. These workshops introduce the new transfer students to one another and to the valuable resources, student organization, and other high-impact opportunities that are available to them. Student leaders in this program are first-generation upper class students who also transferred to North Central.


Meet our Cardinal First staff


Related Pages

Discover more about Cardinal First