As it begins its sixth year, the Pioneer Scholars program continues to succeed in providing necessary support for first-generation freshmen. Of the nearly 680 registered freshmen for 2013-14, about 245 are first-generation students. All first-generation students are assigned a peer mentor (upperclassman first-generation student) that works with them throughout the year. If your student is first-generation, meaning that his or her generation is the first in your family to attend college, and he or she has not mentioned “Pioneers,” have him or her contact Lindsey Peetz-Murray at email@example.com to sign up.
Pioneer Scholars was designed to provide additional support and guidance for first-generation students, who may be confronted with, and perhaps intimidated by, educational, emotional, social and financial struggles particular to the first-generation experience.
The program, run by the Academic Resource Center and co-directed by Lindsey Peetz-Murray and Amy Siegel, is comprised of a wealth of events scheduled exclusively to appeal to these students. At the start of the year, students are assigned small groups led by peer mentors. The peer mentors, a trained and dedicated group of students, make weekly contact with their group members in some way. In some instances all Pioneers and mentors gather for organized activities (like the Welcome Party, Field Day, and the Faculty First-generation Panel); at other times, small groups meet individually for activities planned by their peer mentor.
Statistics from the inaugural year of Pioneer Scholars prove that it works: actively participating Pioneer Scholars had a higher average GPA than those first-generation students who did not participate in the program. A higher percentage of active Pioneers returned for their sophomore year versus those who did not participate. In addition, many past Pioneer Scholars return to the program as peer mentors. The most important factor, student response, has been overwhelmingly positive. As Kandice Ford puts it: “I understand how important it is to be connected. I learned a lot from my peer mentor and from being a member of Pioneer Scholars this year, and I hope to be able to pass on my knowledge and experience to others.”
Co-Director of Pioneer Scholars