Hobart and William Smith welcomed to campus 20 local high school students aspiring to be the first in their families to attend college. The group took tours of campus, attended admissions sessions and participated in roundtable discussions with students, faculty and staff. A collaboration between Associate Professor of Sociology James Sutton, Director of Intercultural Affairs Alejandra Molina and community activist James Schuler, the visit was the latest in ongoing community partnerships addressing college readiness.
“Whatever it is that you decide to do, you have to work at it. I want you all to remember when times get hard, you have to reach for it,” President Gregory J. Vincent ’83 told students. “This is a place that you should know you are always welcome. We want you to know that we are invested in your success.”
In addition to Vincent, approximately 20 members of the HWS community discussed campus life, answered questions and engaged with students about their own goals, aspirations and challenges. “They’re making it seem like it’s not impossible,” said Tyrese Jenkins, a Lyons high school senior. “When I’m older, after school, I want to make Lyons a better place to live and college would help me do that.”
Jenkins and his peers work closely with Schuler, who is leading local efforts to implement My Brother’s Keeper, the 2014 initiative established by former President Barack Obama to create community support systems for young men of color. Schuler is also a member of the Juvenile Justice Task Force of the Finger Lakes.
“It’s all about building opportunity. Being given individualized attention as young men of color makes a huge difference,” says Schuler, who spoke about racism in the criminal justice system to approximately 200 members of the HWS community last semester. “We can motivate these young men to be mentors in their communities.”
“Programming like this makes college more accessible,” says Director of Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers. “When students come to campus and see the familiar faces of HWS students they know from their work in the community, they can see that we are truly working to make them feel welcome in multiple ways.”
First-generation college students who matriculate to HWS have support through the First Generation Initiative, which ensures students have academic, social and co-curricular guidance; have visibility as a group on campus; graduate; and take advantage of the resources and opportunities that HWS offers, both during and after their undergraduate years.
The First Generation Initiative recently welcomed its inaugural alumni speaker, HWS Board Chair Thomas S. Bozzuto ’68, who recently established the Bozzuto Family First-Generation Endowed Scholarship with a $1 million gift.
Founded in 2006, the First Generation Initiative ensures that first-generation students have academic, social and co-curricular guidance; have visibility as a group on campus; graduate; and take advantage of the resources and opportunities that HWS offers, both during and after their undergraduate years. The program serves approximately 1 out of 6 HWS students and is led by Associate Professor of Chemistry Christine de Denus, who was the first in her family to attend college.