Graduation Honor Cords

first-gen honor cords blue and yellow

First-Generation Honor Cords

Honor 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 honor cords to all of our undergraduate first-generation graduating students, to help them mark the significant accomplishment of reaching graduation day. The term "honor cord" is a general term and does NOT mean students must be graduating with honors in order to get a cord. All first-gen students are eligible. 

Once a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye

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 students walk across the stage wearing their first-gen honor cord, 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 honor cords have been made possible by a generous contribution from the University of Iowa Student Government (USG). 

December 2022 First-Gen Honor Cord Distribution Information

First-Gen students who have applied to graduate in December 2022, may pick up their honor cord during the following days/times:


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

Messages to 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 this year's 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 to Class of 2020 First-Gen College Graduates!