First-Generation Graduation Cords

Once a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye

Graduation cords have long been worn by graduates during commencement ceremonies as a symbol of personal and academic achievement. At the University of Iowa, we are proud to provide graduation cords to first-generation college students, to help them mark the significant accomplishment of reaching graduation day. 

The colors, gold and teal or blue carry significance for graduates. Gold represents the University of Iowa, while blue is often associated with the field of education. This color combination reminds graduates of the significant academic achievements they accomplished as a Hawkeye. 

As graduates walk across the stage wearing their first-gen cords, we hope they feel the presence of the many faculty and staff, family members, friends, and teachers who have been supporting and cheering for them during their entire educational journey. 

Beginning in May 2022, first-generation graduation cords have been made possible by a generous contribution from the University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government (USG). 

first-gen honor cords blue and yellow

May 2023 First-Gen Graduation Cord Distribution

First-Gen college students who have applied to graduate in May 2023, may pick up their graduation cord during the following days/times:

Day/time/location TBA in April 2023


Not walking in a ceremony?
No problem! Students are still welcome to pick up their first-gen graduation cord. 

We'd love to see photos of you wearing your graduation cords on graduation day! Don't forget to tag and follow us on social media. @uiowafirstgen #iowafirstgen

Messages to UI First-Generation College Graduates

Over 4,000 University of Iowa undergraduate students graduate each year, and approximately 20% of these students will identify as a first-generation college student. Beginning in May 2020, the UI First-Generation Task Force, in partnership with numerous campus partners and institutional leaders, began creating special video messages for first-gen students as our gift to them.

Scroll down to see the 2022 video, as well as videos from previous years.

Congratulations, first-gen graduates!

Congratulations Class of 2022 First-Gen College Graduates!



Congratulations Class of 2021 First-Gen College Graduates!

Congratulations Class of 2020 First-Gen College Graduates!