Stonehill and National Stats

First-generation students are one of the largest underrepresented groups in American higher education. According to the 2011 census, approximately 33% of 5-17 year-olds were positioned to be first-generation college students[1]. That means that 1 out of 3 students in grades K through 12 come from families with no legacy of college attendance. 24% of Stonehill’s total student enrollment identifies as first-gen!

There are tons of benefits from attending and completing a college degree.[2]

  • More job opportunity. It has been estimated that by 2028 there will be 19 million more jobs for educated workers than there are qualified people to fill them.
  • In 2005, the average income for a Bachelor’s degree holder was $54,689. The average annual income for a high school graduate at that time was $19,915. While you may not be making $54,689 at graduation, your potential earnings over your lifetime is estimated to be over two times as much as a high school graduate.
  • You can build your network. Have you ever been told “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know?” It is true. Yes, you need to be knowledgeable and hard-working, but having a strong network can be a valuable asset throughout your life.

Statistically, college graduates have a better health and standard of living.

[1] https://research.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/publications/2013/8/presentation-apac-2013-first-generation-college-aspirations-preparedness-challenges.pdf
[2] http://www.ownyourownfuture.com/files/documents/benefits-of-college-s.pdf

Student Stories

As we have mentioned before, Stonehill’s student population is over 20% first-generation identified. We spoke with some of our  first-gen alumni about their experiences at Stonehill College. See their stories below!

Christ Julmice '17

Christ Julmice '17

Major: Biology
Hometown: Dorchester, MA

What made you decide to attend Stonehill?

I attended an overnight program hosted by the office of intercultural affairs [and the office of admissions]. I was very attracted to values given to underrepresented student like myself, and coming to that program made my decision of becoming a Skyhawk easier.

What was your experience like transitioning to life on campus?

My first two years at Stonehill were anything but easy. With help from the right people and the right resources I was able to have a better transition to my junior and my senior year. Now, I would not change those experiences and challenges for the world because they make me the strong person that I am today. I was struggling in every aspect of my college life, whether it was academic, social or spiritual, I did not fit in any of the norms of typical Stonehill college students. The office of Intercultural Affairs was the office that connected me to all of the resources that eventually helped eased my transition to Stonehill community. Now, as one of the coordinators of GenOne I am always proud to represent the group and it is always a pleasure for me talk to other people mission of the Group, because I know what it means to be first in your family to go to college. GenOne is a dialogue group for first-generation college students that creates a safe space for students to discuss academics, social and economic challenges. The groups serve to encourage and empower first-generation college students to shape and retain their college experience. I joined GenOne toward the end of my freshman year seeking answers to questions that I would not dare ask my parents because they did not have a chance to grow up in this country and go to college. At the time, I would also not dare ask those questions to people within my community because I did not want them to think that I was senseless. Looking back at the experiences that I have had with this group for the past three years, I would change it for anything in the world. Now, being on the other end of the spectrum, as a leader I definitely see myself in the group of students who comes to the meetings seeking answers to their questions. What makes this groups so special is the fact that it is an open safe space where students are allowed to share and discuss any college related experiences, whether it is personal, educational, social or economic experiences. I am not an expert at figuring out the path to success in college, but working with these groups of students has helped me get better at being able to manage time, advice others and balance every other parts of my life.

What has been your favorite part about being a Skyhawk?

Entering Stonehill as a freshman and seeing the difference between myself and the rest of the majority of community became my motivation to stay on campus and strive for success. It was difficult at first because I used to be very shy and my introverted personality restrained me from seeking help on my first semester in college. Although, it did not stop me from communicating with small groups of people and figure out my place in the community. Now, as a member of  R.I.S.E. (Radiant Inspiring Sisters Empowered), I am more confident and empowered to speak my mind. R.I.S.E. is a group for women of color who look at each other as sisters and encourage each other to see their interior and exterior beauty. The opportunity that I got from meeting people in that group resulted in my engagement more in activities within the Stonehill community. Now as a new resident assistant in the O’Hara staff and a S.H.I.F.T. (Shaping Holistic Individuals for Transcendence) leader, I am very excited to take on such important positions and the be a role model and resource for those who might be struggling through their transition to the community.

What makes you most proud about being a first-generation student?

My family does not always understand my commitment to my education, because they did not get the chance to further pursue their educations. The challenges I face comes from explaining to my family the meaning of getting a college education and being a full time student. I want to work through those challenges, because even through my family does not understand the meaning of being a full time college student, they value my decision to go through with my pursuit of a higher education. My pride is from their encouragement which have helped me overcome the challenges that I have been facing as a first-generation college student.

 

Abby Walczak '17

MAJOR: Political Science & Government Minor: Sociology
HOMETOWN: ludlow, MA

What made you decide to attend Stonehill?

I decided to apply to Stonehill and was drawn to the campus during accepted students’ day. I remember a lot of speakers talking about how they were unsure of their majors and used their years at Stonehill to explore different areas until they found what was right for them. I also really enjoyed learning about the off-campus opportunities, including study abroad and intern-away programs. I also liked that the campus is smaller, so courses with classmates and professors would be more personal.

What was your experience like transitioning to life on campus?

My transition into life at Stonehill was comfortable but took some time. During my first year, I was in a quad with three other roommates, and it was a good way to meet new people and be more social. Coming into school, I was very quiet, but sharing space with others helped me find friends. Once I started attending GenOne, I realize many of the members shared similar experiences applying and adjusting to college. I want make my parents proud, especially since they did not have the same opportunities; I was happy to find many other members of GenOne shared this goal. Talking with people that I could relate to on this level has given me a sense of support. I joined Asian American Society, Desi Club, MATU Hispanic/Latinx Club, and other culture clubs. Other programs such as the Intercultural Experience Program, a program for first-year students to talk about diversity, helped me make new friends as well.  Getting involved in extracurricular activities helped me come out of my shell, and I am now an ABS Leader who leads the Intercultural Experience Program for first-year students.

What has been your favorite part about being a Skyhawk?

My favorite part about being a Skyhawk is the ability to have spaces to share my opinions and frustrations, and also learn in a supportive community. Stonehill’s campus has been great in fostering different programs for students to find what they are passionate about, both inside and outside the classroom. Stonehill’s commitment to giving back to the community has also added significantly to my growth as a person. I believe Stonehill also does a wonderful job of fostering the entire individual, allowing for studies across multiple disciplines. My experience with various clubs and groups within the Intercultural Affairs Office, through GenOne, WBA (Whites Becoming Allies), the ALANA-A Brothers and Sisters program, and other cultural clubs such as Asian American Society, Desi Club, and MATU Hispanic/Latinx culture club, has expanded my perception and understanding of identity on a deeper level. I am also very grateful that I was able to intern in New York City for a semester through Stonehill’s Intern Away Program, to work for a public policy nonprofit as well as a political fundraising organization. My experiences through Stonehill have helped me discover my passion for social justice and issue advocacy, and I hope to incorporate these areas in my career after graduation. Stonehill’s ability to provide spaces for diverse viewpoints is a great asset that I hope they continue to expand upon in the future.

What makes you most proud about being a first-generation student?

I am proud to be a first-generation college student because it shows that anyone has the potential to succeed academically, regardless of background. However, my time at Stonehill has also shown me how much privilege I do have despite being a first-generation student. This experience makes me very thankful because my parents were never able to pursue higher education, yet they had faith in my capabilities and pushed me to strive for success. I work to make my parents proud because they sacrificed so much in order to ensure their children could go to college. This motivation has helped me become more driven and involved at Stonehill. Being a first-generation college student helps me further appreciate my education, knowing my parents did not have the same opportunities. This gratitude has helped me flourish and become more involved on campus; I think everyone on campus benefits from feeling grateful for their opportunities.