First Generation Program News

Nicholas Kaempf, Staff Associate, UAAP

The First Generation Program (FGP) participated in CityDays: MLK Day on January 20. Twenty-five first generation MIT students volunteered for an afternoon at the Greater Boston Food Bank, the largest hunger-relief organization in New England. Professor Edmund Bertschinger, Institute community and equity officer, served as the warehouse floor foreman, relaying instructions and words of encouragement to students as they sorted food brought out by conveyor belt. Ultimately, this energetic group of future scientists, engineers, professors, and doctors inspected and sorted over 5,000 pounds of food— enough to feed a family of four for an entire year!

First Generation Project at CityDays: MLKBefore the group returned to campus, Professor Bertschinger facilitated a discussion to help students reflect on their experience. He prompted students to consider how MIT’s mission to “develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind” aligns with Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideal of service above self. The day ended with a challenge to students to pursue service projects they are passionate about and apply these ideals to their future work.

On Saturday, March 7, four members of the FGP Student Advisory Board and the staff advisor attended the third annual First Generation College Student Summit, held at Wellesley College. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a first generation college student herself, delivered the opening remarks via video, sharing her background and experience as the first in her family to graduate from college. She also encouraged the over 200 students in attendance to continue to strive to achieve their goals.First Generation Project Student Summit

The summit provided opportunities for MIT students to connect with other first generation student leaders from across the region and to learn about best practices on other campuses. Students attended presentations on a variety of topics, including mental health resources for first generation students, financial aid, and balancing the different cultures of home and school. The MIT cohort drew upon their experiences on the FGP Student Advisory Board to offer ideas and suggestions to those just starting a first generation program or student group on their own campus. At the same time, the summit inspired the MIT students to find ways to incorporate what they learned into future MIT FGP initiatives.