First generation mixer held in the Campus Center

About a quarter of incoming students are first generation and low income


(Collegian file photo)

By Lisa Ladas

A mixer for first generation students was held on April 23 at the University of Massachusetts and was co-sponsored by the graduate school’s first-generation initiative.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said about 25 percent of incoming students are first generation and low income.

“It is a significant diverse population at UMass, and we want to embrace these students, and for the remaining 75 percent to understand what our society is made up of and what it’s like for first generation students,” Subbaswamy said. “I applaud everyone who went out of their way to make this event happen.”

Subbaswamy appreciated the strengths the students bring and is aiming to make the University more inclusive.

Linda Ziegenbein, the academic and diversity advisor for the College of Natural Sciences and part-time anthropology lecturer, played a vital role in creating this initiative. One of her goals is to increase visibility of the program.

“We are people and [are] the embodiment of the American Dream and you are not alone,” Ziegenbein said, adding that the University faculty and staff are here to help in student success.

Mitchell Manning, an animal science senior, is the founder and current co-president of the first generation and low income partnership. Manning’s main goal is to build visibility and connect students across departments.

Manning said, “There is a place at UMass for first generation and low income students and as a community; we are all here to help each other.”

Rebecca Maillet, a Ph.D. English student, said two years ago she was offered a job running the first generation initiative for graduate students. The people involved in this initiative would implement programming for graduate students to share ideas, conduct research through support gatherings, network, attend off campus social events like movie nights, go to professional development workshops and facilitate wer567\study groups.

“I am excited to see what happens next and excited to do the work I am doing at the graduate school,” Maillet said.

Tracie Gibson, director of student success and diversity in the advising office, is first generation herself and was excited to host the event.

Gibson said she understood “that there is a significant population of first generation students here on campus and they bring a unique set of skills. This is a significant way of saying ‘welcome.’ We [are] glad…students know there is support and to reach out when necessary.”

Lisa Ladas can be reached at [email protected]