"I was the first in my family to go to college, and I still remember that first semester in the residence hall when I felt that everyone around me sounded like they knew what they were doing, and I was always a step behind," says Assistant Dean of First-Year Students John Pfister. Now part of Dartmouth's First-Generation Student Network, Pfister hopes he can encourage these students at Dartmouth "to take pride in what they have done and will do."
John Pfister and Flor Marie Cruz '10 are both members of the new First-Generation Student Network. "It is significant to know that you are not the only one coping with similar issues," says Cruz. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)
The College launched the network this fall to connect first-generation students with other students, staff, and faculty from similar backgrounds. The students have an outstanding role model in Dartmouth President James Wright, who was the first in his own family to graduate from college.
Flor Marie Cruz '10 says, "Many students don't realize that they have peers for whom the idea of going to any college, let alone a selective school like Dartmouth, is a dream come true and sets us apart within our families. I have been motivated by listening to my first-generation peers talk about the challenges we share."
Nora Yasumura, acting assistant director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, serves as one of the coordinators. Once a first-generation student herself, Yasumura understands some students may face unique challenges. "The goal of the network is to affirm people's experiences, help them problem solve, and share knowledge and resources in a supportive and open manner."
The 150 first-generation students in the Class of 2012 were invited to a dinner during First-Year Orientation. Yasumura says the network will continue to offer large events, as well as create small groups, with one faculty or staff member to every four students.
The network receives funding from the Bildner Foundation as part of the Economic Equity Initiative (EEI), an ongoing campus project with a mission to address socioeconomic difference as an important element in our lives and institution.
Yasumura reports that the network already has more than 100 members, 15 of whom are faculty and staff. To join, email the network.
By ELIZABETH KELSEY
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Last Updated: 12/17/08