New Program to Serve First-Gen Students

As part of an ongoing effort to support traditionally marginalized communities on campus, a new initiative called the Meiklejohn Fellows Program was launched this semester. Aimed at first-generation and/or low income (FLI) students, the program is designed to improve general access to opportunities, in this case by providing resources and funding specifically for FLI students.

The program will offer its participants dedicated advising and career development opportunities, as well as direct funding and support for summer opportunities such as internships and research projects. As it stands, only those in the class of 2022 and future classes are eligible for the program, although similar opportunities are available to FLI students who do not fit that criteria.

This project originated from the Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning and Office of Campus Diversity and Student Leadership (CDSL). Casey Jo Dufresne, who previously worked as a program director on campus, will lead the implementation of this initiative. The program is named after Alexander Meiklejohn, who was president of Amherst College from 1913 to 1923. In his roles as educator and administrator, he was known for his dedication to educational reform.

According to Tenzin Kunor, associate director of diversity and leadership, the program is just one of many that have been piloted in support of FLI students since the CDSL launched a year ago. He emphasized the importance of the CDSL’s activities at large with respect to FLI students as well as other targeted groups, including transfer, undocumented and veteran students.

“Our CDSL programming invites students to access our resources and services as some of their individual circumstances and complexities could limit the informed guidance they receive — or possibly don’t receive — from family about navigating higher education,” he said in an email interview.

Kunor also noted the key role that alumni engagement played in facilitating these programs. “About two years ago, a generous donor contributed a gift to support FLI-identifying students for post-graduate planning through the Loeb Center,” he said.