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University of Calgary launches First-Generation Scholars program

By Reyam Jamaleddine, October 24 2023—

The First-generation Scholars program is a new initiative launched by the University of Calgary as a part of the new Ahead of Tomorrow strategy. The program provides financial support alongside mentorship, advising and networking opportunities for students who are the first in their family to attend post-secondary. Those who are eligible will receive a $2,500 scholarship. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Registrar Amy Dambrowitz, Ph.D. and Dr. Malinda Smith, vice-provost of equity, diversity and inclusion, provided information and insights on the need for this program and its effects on the university student body. 

“We have a commitment to enhancing the student experiences both current but also those coming in and future focused.The First-Generation Scholars program is the university opening doors to students who historically might have not considered university a place to come,” said Smith. 

“This is the most comprehensive program of its kind in Canada. In addition to the definition of first-in-family that we are using here, we also include people that are protected youth in care and refugees.”

With the aim to provide a comprehensive support program, the First-Generation Scholars program has introduced a mentorship program. 

In  a statement to the Gauntlet, from Roxanne Ross, director for Student Success Centre with Student Services describes the First in Family Mentorship Program.“The First-in-Family (FiF) Mentorship Program offers first-year FiF students the opportunity to be matched with a senior student who can help them navigate campus life, connect with campus resources, and build a supportive community that helps them thrive academically, personally and professionally.” 

The program aims to break barriers and provide those who would not otherwise attend post-secondary an opportunity and incentive to do so. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Michael Barraza, a first-generation student in his second year at U of C states that he believes the First-Generation Scholars program will create diversity within the campus community. 

“It will bring a lot more diversity to the university. We are already a very diverse campus, a very diverse community and what I am hoping is that it helps people up and gives people that courage to apply when they have those apprehensions,” said Barraza. 

Lastly, Dambrowitz said that this program will create opportunities for more diversity within the campus community. 

“Admission and acceptance at the university is that big shiny front door, but it also needs to be open to everyone, the difference that this will make is who we are holding that door open for and welcoming into our community, and I think we are always enriched by having a broader and more diverse set of voices and folks and that’s exactly what this is aimed at,” said Dambrowitz.

For more information about the First-Generation Scholars program, visit the U of C website.

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