13 May 2024 • Alums Supporting First Generation Students By Colin Spencer '19

Funding empowers students’ liberal arts experience. 

Grateful for the experiences their sons had at Hobart and William Smith, James and Bernadette Atwater P’19, P’21 have created the Atwater Family Annual First Generation Initiative Discretionary Fund.   

“The Atwater’s generous support of the First Generation Initiative program is very much appreciated,” says Associate Professor of Chemistry and Director of the First Generation Initiative Christine de Denus P’22. “It will allow for the creation of new opportunities for first generation students which will include networking with professionals in their fields and the support of senior students inducted into the National Tri-Alpha Honor Society. It is a great honor that the Atwaters have recognized this program and the impact it has on students who are the first in their families to attend a four-year college in the United States.”

Staunch HWS supporters, the Atwaters have contributed to multiple areas and programs on campus, including to the Hobart tennis team, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives and the Entrepreneurial Studies program. Additionally, James and Bernadette have served on the Parents Executive Committee, including as Co-Chairs for two years and currently serve on the President's Leadership Council.

Jonathan Atwater ’19, who majored in media & society, won multiple awards as a member of the Hobart tennis team, including the Myron V. Jacobs ’37 Tennis Award, the Hobart Rookie Award for Tennis and the Joe Arritz ’66 Sportsmanship Award. A three-time All-Liberty League selection, in singles play, he produced a 64-29 singles record, graduating third on the program’s career wins list. He also posted a 51-44 career doubles record. He is training to become a pilot. 

Jeremy Atwater ’21, who majored in psychological science, also played on the Hobart tennis team. Jeremy, who transferred to HWS from Colby, played two seasons shortened by COVID. He was 9-7 in singles and 7-4 in doubles. He was a recipient of the Arnitz Sportsmanship Award. Jeremy works as a senior market analyst for JM Search in Philadelphia, Pa.

FURTHER TOGETHER: The Campaign for Our Third Century 

Started in 2006, the First Generation Initiative is an institutional program that builds a connected and supportive community of first generation students, faculty, staff and alumni. Nearly 20% of undergraduate HWS students are the first in their families to attend a four-year college.

Top: Anna McBride ‘24, MaryBridget Horvath ’24, Zulenny Reyes ‘26, Arleth Merino ‘27 and Alex Cottrell ’20, MHEL’24 attend the First Generation Initiative celebration in Bartlett Theatre.