First-generation students soar, thanks to expanded UMass Lowell program

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First-generation students soar, thanks to expanded UMass Lowell program

New career-readiness programs for UMass Lowell students enrolled in the university’s River Hawk Scholars Academy help prepare them for their professional lives.

Launched in 2017, the RHSA provides academic and support services to enhance educational, on-campus and community experiences for full-time UMass Lowell students who are the first in their families to attend college. Forty percent of UMass Lowell undergraduates are first-generation students. To date, more than 1,500 of them have benefited from the RHSA.

Originally designed to serve freshmen and sophomores, this year, with the help of a $500,000 federal grant and other funding, RHSA has expanded to serve juniors and seniors with its Pathways to Careers program. In tandem with the Career and Co-op Center at UMass Lowell, the program prepares participants to pursue higher education or enter the workforce. Workshops offered include sessions on job interviews and resume writing, networking, and understanding professional dress and etiquette. Students are also required to attend a UMass Lowell job fair and conduct career-related interviews with three individuals from the UMass Lowell community.

“With Pathways to Career, RHSA is now poised to provide even greater opportunities for our first-generation students to achieve career success with confidence. This is just the beginning of RHSA’s increased focus on preparing our students for their careers and lives after graduation. We have no doubt they will be the pride of RHSA and UMass Lowell,” said Matthew Hurwitz, RHSA Director and Associate Professor of English.

Jamilet Amoguea had a head start navigating the UMass Lowell campus during her first two years as an RHSA member. Now that she’s a junior, the psychology major from Revere, Mass., says the Pathways to Career program helps her plan for her future.

“It’s especially helpful for first-generation students because a lot of things are new to us,” Amoguea said of the year-long program. “I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on students to get it all mapped out in their first or second year. It will help me to try to understand where I am coming from.

Arthur Rosa, a computer science student from Everett, Mass., says he enrolled in the program to stay on track to find a career that will allow him to help people.

Being part of a cohort of first-generation students “helps me move forward with the support of my peers,” he said. “Seeing my peers from all walks of life fight for their careers, even if it’s difficult, inspires me to do the same.”

Yaritza Gil-Javier, a criminal justice major from Lawrence, Massachusetts, signed up as soon as she saw the email from RHSA.

“I struggled with what I want to do with my career,” said Gil-Javier, who explored options in forensics and law enforcement before discovering an interest in homeland security through his courses. .

“This program will definitely help me decide what I want to do. I hope I can network and build new relationships,” she said.

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its students bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, science, and social sciences. UMass Lowell offers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from top faculty and staff, who prepare all graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the world.

Ryan H. Bowman