First-Generation College Student Summit

On Friday, February 1st, Third Space fellows Jaime Carias and Alison Horstmeyer teamed up to introduce  soft skills problem solving to the First-Generation College Student Summit at USC.

The 4th annual summit held at Ronald Tutor Campus Center focused on building a community for first-generation college students, educating around issues, practices and research on first-generation college experiences and bringing visibility to the first-generation college student community and their intersecting identities.

The workshop aimed to help student affairs professionals and their departments make better decisions, unlock innovation, break down silos, build diverse and higher performing departments, and ultimately provide better service to students.

Jaime and Alison presented a new communication-driven and research-based methodology to help the professionals master and teach students the critical soft skills needed for success. Based on five years of research, the presentation discussed five competencies that are critical to success, but under supplied in the market – Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy,Intellectual Curiosity, and 360-Degree Thinking or ACE-IT.

“Having the opportunity to work with student affairs professionals who serve first-generation students”, Jaime believes, “is the first-step in the journey of better developing and honing soft skills in our future leaders.”

Alison says working with the student affairs professionals on the ACE-IT model of essential [soft] skills demonstrated that these attributes are relevant, meaningful and applicable at any stage of their career. “The professionals who attended the session not only recognized the value of honing these skills to support their own professional development, but also saw the value of helping first-generation students cultivate these skills as they navigate their respective career trajectories.”


To learn more about our Third Space Thinking workshops for soft skills development, please visit