Student Access and Achievement Programs

First-Generation Stories

Nazareth staff and faculty — including some who are first-gen college grads themselves — are glad to be resources to you.

Jeramiah Vega & mentor Taye Daniel-Ayibiowu

An Understanding Ear

Wisdom, inspiration, and tips on life: Jeramiah Vega '25 (nursing) — in green shirt — and Taye Daniel-Ayibiowu (Coach T) share a glimpse at their experience through the First Gen Connect program. It matches first-generation college students with faculty or staff who were first-gen college students and who understand some of the challenges of navigating college. Student blog post ≫

Prof. Bryan Adams and students, each with a laptop, interact in a group

Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams, assistant clinical professor in the School of Business and Leadership, was a first-gen student when he attended Nazareth.

What he sees today: First-gen students "are heavily invested in and care deeply about earning a college degree" and tend to be "incredibly self-motivated and fiercely independent."

His tip: Get to know faculty and staff. It's OK to ask for support.

Joycelyn Rivas

Appreciating First-Gen Support

"Failing for me is not an option," says Joycelyn Rivas '20. Read about her experience and advice >

Joe Daboll-Lavoie

Teaching Students to use Economics to Solve Problems

Professor: Joseph DaBoll-Lavoie, Ph.D.

Role: Professor and director of economics in the School of Business and Leadership

First to college and first for a doctorate!
"I was the first one in my family on both sides who completed a four-year degree (never mind a Ph.D.). My dad didn't finish high school, but received his diploma when his high school gave all the WWII enlisted men a credit that he was missing. My mom received her high school diploma. Both of my parents were bright, supportive, and made me and my brother stay in school and do well."

Pro tip: Work smarter
"First gen study habits: Work more — and smarter. Do more problems/thinking and question answering, not just re-reading over and over. Come in for help early to get on track on how to learn each class' content. Find out what works for each one. They all have nuances. Read before lectures so that your note taking is on a deeper level. Quiz yourself! PQRST! Look that up."

Everyone has challenges
"Don't be intimidated by others who seem like they know everything and how to act. They have their own baggage you can't see."

Prepare yourself
"Read books! Ask faculty for titles of what to read across the curriculum and in general. As a young person, the books that impacted me for my generation and earlier would be: Small Is Beautiful, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Bell Jar, The Color Purple, D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts."