By Lauren Grimaldi
For students who are the first person in their family to attend college, institutions of higher education identify them as first-generation college students. Colleges everywhere are committed to helping these students succeed to their full potential. Roosevelt in particular is undergoing changes to their previous service Project Prime and is in the process of establishing a new service to cater to these students.
Pamela Thompson-Hill, associate director of First-Generation Student Support Services, explains that Project Prime supported first-generation, low income and disabled students. The first-generation student support program is primarily focusing on first generation students however we are not turning any students away who were involved in the Project Prime program. “We assist them in academic support, referrals for tutoring, workshops, outings, help with registration, and navigating Roosevelt University as incoming and continuing students, said Thompson-Hill. “The program is new and still in it’s developmental stages. Although a lot of the services being offered are similar with services provided by Project Prime.”
Christopher Littrell, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement, offered insight into this new service RU offers. “First-generation students can really use any of the support offices (Roosevelt) has to offer,” he said, “including the Center for Student Involvement.” Littrell continues, “The biggest (area where students may need help) I am seeing is financial aid,” Littrell explained. “In terms of how do I make this work, get involved, and do well in my classes.”
“I am excited to see how the program changes,” Littrell said. “It’s important to help first- generation students because they’re trying to better themselves and set a trajectory that’s different than what they know. I am a firm believer that anyone can benefit from education.”
First-generation student Bryant Riley, a senior, offered his own personal experiences on how programs like Project Prime and others help students like him.
“Being a first-generation college student can definitely be challenging and a disadvantage. There are a lot of things my parents could not help me with and I had to use external resources in order to bridge any disadvantages,” Riley said.
According to Riley, programs like Project Prime can be extremely beneficial and make a huge difference as to whether or not a student is able to go through college successfully. “My situation was a little different coming to Roosevelt University because I am supported a lot through Federal Trio/Project Prime,” Riley explained. “Basically Project Prime “adopted” me as family member and fostered my education at RU. If I ever needed help with financial aid, student course registration, job searches, study tips, etc. My support system is extremely strong and Project Prime is the reason why I am still in college.”
He also offered advice to any first generation students out there.
“Get involved with the Project Prime program and find a mentor on campus through the academic success center,” he said.
Thompson- Hill says the program is reaching out to faculty and teachers campus-wide to receive feedback to better help design the program and plan on what services might benefit students.