President’s Reception Brings First-Generation College Students Together

President Rebecca Chopp with students
President Rebecca Chopp speaks to fellow first-generation college students at a reception in her home.

Approximately a dozen students, joined by several deans and faculty members, were welcomed to President Rebecca Chopp's home last month for a reception to connect with others who were first in their families to attend college. The event allowed the group to discuss their common experiences as first-generation community members.

Chopp's own upbringing acted as an extra motivation to encourage this community to meet and share their experiences at the College. "As a first-generation college student myself, I know how frightening and strange it can be for some, not for all, so it's really just an opportunity for faculty and staff who are first-generation to come and welcome these students and let them get to know one another," she says. "I'm committed to all of our students succeeding, but I do take incredible pride in our first-generation students because I know how tough it can be and I know what a stretch it can be."

One of the highlights of the reception was a chance for each attendee to share a piece of advice about how to succeed within the realm of academics and also the college experience in general. 

"I think a lot of the advice today can be applied to your college career whether you are first-generation or not, but I think it's definitely helpful to hear about other people's experiences," says María Mejía '15, a prospective history major from Bronx, N.Y.

A new campus organization for first-generation students has recently begun, allowing additional opportunities for this community to connect and learn from each other. More than 10 percent of students in the the last four incoming classes are the first generation in their family to attend college.