CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Students and faculty at the University of Virginia are bonding over their drive to do something their parents never did, earn a college degree. 

UVA is celebrating first generation students by publicly listing hundreds of faculty members who know what it is like to jump over economic and socioeconomic hurdles.

More than 1,500 UVA students, about 10 percent of the undergraduate population, are first generation. 

Santiago Naranjo emigrated from Columbia to the United States at age five.  

“I view education as such an important vehicle and instrument for breaking for instance, cycles of inter-generational poverty,” said Naranjo.

Many of his professors, including Robert Patterson who teaches commerce at the university, identify with him.

“This issue of diversity is often done along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, or religion, so talking about diversity in terms of economics and the socioeconomics from which our students come is a really important topic I think that we haven’t really discussed in the past,” Patterson stated.

More than 225 faculty members published their names on a list of first generation college students.

“That's a lot more than I expected it to be. Beyond that, I think it's very bold and inspiring on their part,” Naranjo said.

“It's been so powerful to connect with students who identify with the issues that many of us as faculty and staff have identified with for years, and it's given us a voice and it's given them a voice, and to bring us together to talk about these issues of socioeconomic diversity has been really fun,” stated Patterson.

University President Teresa Sullivan also hosted an event last week on grounds celebrating the accomplishments of first generation students and faculty.