Pioneer Scholars Program

First Generation Students

A first generation student is one for whom neither parent has completed a degree at a four-year college or university. A student is still considered “first-generation” if his/her sibling has completed a degree at a four-year college or institution. Currently, about 40% of all incoming freshmen are first-generation students.

The Pioneer Scholars Program

The Pioneer Scholars Program is a first-year experience program for first-generation college students that is designed to offer these students greater support and direction regarding the academic, social, emotional, and financial aspects of college success. The program focuses on the intricacies of transitioning from the high school environment to the college atmosphere by introducing students to resources available to enhance and promote overall success as a student and young adult.

Through small groups, the students are introduced to other first-generation college students in their incoming freshman class, assigned an upperclassman first-generation college student mentor, and connected to resources that will help students become engaged and succeed on campus.

“Being a first generation college student has been a little tough without any advice from family members. The Pioneer Scholars Program has made this transition at Bellarmine that much easier. There were many things I was unaware of and this program was able to not only bring those things to my attention but it taught me how to utilize those resources as well. Having a peer mentor that I can go to anytime with questions is a wonderful asset to the program and the first year experience.”

-Erin Burgstaller, Pioneer Scholar


Program Facilitators

Lindsey Peetz-Murray, First Generation Advisor
Director of the Pioneer Scholars Program

“The Pioneer Program is an amazing experience for first generation freshman.  The goal of the program is to introduce first generation freshman to a fun & supportive group, help students learn ways to be successful in college, discover resources & organizations on campus, and connect with the Bellarmine community.  Being a part of this unique program gives our students an immediate connection on campus which can lead to a happy & successful Bellarmine journey."

Amy Siegel, Sophomore Advisor
Co-Director of the Pioneer Scholars Program

“The Pioneer Program offers consistent enthusiasm and guidance to 1st generation students as they navigate through the transitions of college.  It is important to provide motivation, expect hard work and acknowledge the desires of students.  I believe that these characteristics are the keys to creating and enhancing opportunities for student success.  I have a passion for motivation and hard work, which is the basis of my approach to working with students.”