The First Generation Initiative was formed in 2006 to help provide first generation students – those who are one of the first members of their family to attend college – with a network designed to meet their particular needs and concerns. The First Generation Initiative will host a dessert reception from 7 until 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Hillcrest House, 159 St. Clair St. Those who wish to attend must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our goal is to find gaps,” says Lisa Kaenzig, assistant dean of William Smith College. She noticed a trend among who were struggling in their first year at HWS. Often they were first-generation students who felt overwhelmed and called home for advice, speaking with family members who hadn’t experienced the struggles of college – or of getting past those hurdles. “The parents want to assist their students but don’t know how to get involved or how to help. That’s where we come in. Everybody needs encouragement, and we’re dedicated to providing support to these students.”
The group encourages participation by all types of students, faculty and staff since each person’s experience with higher education will undoubtedly help inform and support the first generation students.
“Often first generation students feel lost, like their classmates are ‘in-the-know’ about endowed internship funds or alumni networks. We answer the questions these students have and connect them with those who can provide the answers,” explains Kaenzig.
The First Generation Initiative is planning several events for this academic year, including programming during Family Weekend, an academic mentoring program, career workshops, and dinners. For Family Weekend, the group is providing first generation families with host families among the HWS faculty and staff.
If you are interested in getting involved please contact Kaenzig at Kaenzig@hws.edu.