• Beth & Tim Manners

Tufts Celebrates its First-Gen Grads

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Boston Globe: “Of all the commencement ceremonies that will take place around Boston this month, it’s possible that none will be as joyful or exuberant as the one held in a small hall at Tufts University on Friday evening. Tufts has made a serious effort in recent years to welcome first-generation college students to its campus, and on Friday the university celebrated the 58 who are graduating this year as the first in their family to earn a college degree. The ceremony was full of singing, cheering, stomping, and whoops of joy that reverberated off the ceiling of the intercultural center where it took place. It felt less like a ceremony and more like a big family party.”

“The community of first-generation students at Tufts is growing. The incoming class this year had 210 first-generation students, up from 163 last year. Among the graduating seniors Friday were seven undocumented students, the first such students to graduate Tufts. Tufts president Anthony Monaco, himself a first-generation student, spoke briefly during the ceremony, but students cheered the loudest for Robert Mack, an associate provost and chief diversity officer at the school who has quietly worked to assemble what is now a vast array of programs and services for first-generation students.”

“One of Mack’s projects has been the creation of a center that opened this year for first-generation Tufts students. It has quickly become a place to find camaraderie and learn about available services, such as where to find free books or a winter coat or how to secure funding to afford an unpaid summer internship or trip to an academic conference … For several years, Tufts has run a six-week summer program for incoming freshmen who are first-generation students to acclimate them to university life and academics. The school also started a second, shorter summer orientation, to be able to accommodate more first-generation students because interest was so high. The university also has a mentoring program that pairs the students with staff or faculty at Tufts who were also first-generation students.”

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