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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

College to Launch First-Generation Student Fellowship With $2.8 Million Gift

The Georgetown University College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) received a $2.8 million gift to fund the creation of a new first-generation fellowship program, which the university announced Feb. 26

The new First Fellows Program aims to provide opportunities and resources for first-generation, limited-income undergraduate students and their families to enhance the collegiate experience. This program will allow a cohort-based group of undergraduates in the CAS, the oldest and largest undergraduate school, to receive faculty mentorship, further academic guidance, and employment and internship resources beginning in Fall 2024, when the program will launch. 

Rosario Ceballo, the dean of the CAS, said the First Fellows Program will assist first-generation students during their time at Georgetown with a specific academic adviser and program coordinator, access to faculty mentors, stipends for internships and through one-credit courses that will build on the “Mastering the Hidden Curriculum” course, which highlights the information first-generation students may not know, such as how to ask for an extension.

“An important goal, shared by all university leaders, is to support all of our students to be successful at Georgetown,” Ceballo told The Hoya. “First-gen students bring incredible strengths and assets to our community, and we are determined to provide students with the resources to thrive at Georgetown. Our aspiration is to grow this CAS program and collaborate with all university units in a future expansion of the program.”

Georgetown University | Georgetown University College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) announced the creation of the First Fellows Program for first-generation limited-income students to provide students mentorship and academic support through a $2.8 million graduate donation on Feb. 26.

The $2.8 million donation that will fund the first cohort of this program results from Georgetown graduate donors to the CAS. Ceballo said the donation from the group of anonymous graduates makes the First Fellows Program possible. 

“They contributed these funds in order to make a transformational impact on the experience of first-gen students at Georgetown,” Ceballo wrote. 

The First Fellows Program will serve as an additional resource for CAS first-generation, limited-income students beyond the Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP), a program that currently supports more than 650 first-generation, low-income (FLGI) students through mentorship and resources. The university also has the Community Scholars Program (CSP), a cohort-based program for FLGI students who attain higher education from personal initiative and academic excellence, which begins with an academic summer program before students’ freshman year. 

The new fellowship program will differ from current programs like GSP and CSP because it will enhance academic support for sophomore through senior year. GSP and CSP support first-generation students across all school years, yet academic-specific support can taper after freshman year, according to Missy Foy (CAS ’03), the director of GSP.

Lisa Kennedy (CAS ’25), one of the rising presidents of the GSP Student Board, said GSP and the creators of the First Fellows Program are collaborating to create supplementary programming for first-generation students throughout their time on the Hilltop. 

“We’re very excited that more first-generation, low-income students will be able to be supported by this program, especially in the College,” Kennedy told The Hoya. “We’re working with the College of Arts and Sciences right now to make sure that GSP’s programming is supplemented and complimented rather than duplicated.”

Foy said the program will join other resources for first-generation students to build relationships, like GSP and the Regents STEM Scholars Program (RSSP), a program that supports first-generation STEM majors. 

“I think this new program will help CAS first-gen students develop better relationships with faculty, support their research aspirations and provide more funding for summer, which is currently limited by budget constraints,” Foy wrote to The Hoya. 

Kyndall Jackson (CAS ’27), a first-generation student, said she was excited to learn about the new program because of the opportunity to unite first-generation students.

“The experience of being a first-gen student at Georgetown is very difficult,” Jackson told The Hoya. “If you’re a first-gen student, your parents didn’t go to college, so they don’t know what you need. They don’t know not only the logistics of college but the emotional and physical toll college may take.” 

“I think with this fellowship, it’s great because not only does it help with the expenses of everything, but it also provides guidance that is desperately needed for first-gen students on campus,” Jackson added. 

Kennedy said the program’s cohort model will build off the success of CSP’s cohort of students because it will connect first-generation students while creating opportunities for group learning. 

“That cohort model gives you a built-in network of support when you arrive on campus and a group of students who understand what it’s like to come from a first-generation, low-income background, and someone that you can talk to to kind of share your frustrations,” Kennedy said.

Historically, FLGI students experience a graduation rate of 26%, compared with 70% of students who have a parent holding a bachelor’s degree, according to the Pew Research Center. About 23% of first-generation students also feel lonely or isolated from their peers in academic settings.

Jackson said one reason she has experienced feelings of isolation on Georgetown’s campus is because of the school’s competitive environment. 

“I think the loneliness is exacerbated because of Georgetown’s competitiveness,” Jackson said. “I don’t know certain things, and it’s like I have to be introduced to it by another.”

Foy said the First Fellows Program and other programs that create opportunities for first-generation students are necessary for the Georgetown community. 

“A common thread between all of the Georgetown programs for first-gen students is that we share an understanding of their strengths and what dimension they add to our campus community,” Foy wrote. “Their voices, perspectives and values are essential in our classrooms, clubs and dorms.”

This article has been updated to clarify that Kennedy is one of the rising presidents of GSP’s Student Board.

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