Eight students, faculty and staff joined more than 250 students and administrators from across the country at the inaugural Stanford First Generation and/or Low Income Conference at Stanford University in March. Titled “Uplifting Voices,” the conference included lectures and workshops geared at cultivating campuses where first-generation college students can succeed.
“It was as a transformative weekend with many great ideas and a renewed excitement for what we do at HWS,” says director of the HWS First Generation Initiative Program and Professor of Chemistry Christine de Denus. “It was clear that the students had a great time, met new friends, and realized just how much HWS has to offer our first-generation community.”
The first day of the conference invited students and administrators to network and share their experiences. The second day consisted of keynote speakers, small workshops and student-guided discussions on the unique struggles students face at private institutions. The conference concluded with the students being invited to share their plans of action for when they returned to their campuses.
Robert Padilla ’21 credits the HWS First Generation Initiative for helping him develop as a leader by providing opportunities such as this conference. “I could relate to many of the students who attended the conference and are part of first-generation programs,” says Padilla. “I have learned that despite being a low income, first-generation student, anything is possible as long as you set your mind to it.”
“The First Generation Initiative has helped me feel supported on campus by providing events and services specifically tailored to my needs,” says Kelsey Veeder ’21. “I’ve connected with faculty and staff who have provided time and advice that has allowed me to successfully navigate HWS.”
The First Generation Initiative recently welcomed its inaugural alumni speaker, HWS Board Chair Thomas S. Bozzuto ’68, who 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.
Pictured above are Director of Residential Education Shelle Basilio-Murray (left), Jake Burnias ’18, Ren Workman ’18, Kelsey Veeder ’21, Tiffany Green ’21, Joshua Hylkema ’21, Robert Padilla ’21 and de Denus.