Scripps Student Develops First-Generation Student Support Program

First-Generation @ Scripps is a young organization reaching out to students, staff and faculty to expand and solidify the support program for Scripps students who are the first generation of their families to go to college.         

Melissa Mesinas SC ‘12, the founder of the program, is working to place First-Generation @ Scripps under the umbrella of an administrative office. She said that the program might be placed under the Dean of Students Office, because it oversees first-year orientation.    

Currently, the program is unofficially associated with the Office of Admissions, but Assistant Dean of Students Jill Hawthorne said she expects that “the preparation for it and planning for it will come to Student Affairs” at some point.    

Mesinas currently leads First-Generation with Assistant Director of Admissions Ashley Peters SC ’08, but Mesinas will graduate in May. She said that several faculty members have approached her about serving as academic mentors for the first-generation students, a possible addition to the program that interests her and the students in the program.   

“A lot of them have expressed interest in wanting to become mentors if a mentoring component can be incorporated into the program,” Mesinas said. “I am trying to solidify the program for the incoming class of students and making sure that we have programming that meets their needs as they progress in their college years.”   

Currently, First-Generation @ Scripps focuses on acquainting first-generation college students with resources available at Scripps during a three-day pre-orientation period.      

“We did academic workshops where we had Scripps faculty form a panel for them to ask any questions that they had, particularly about Core and Writing 50,” Mesinas said. “We also offered them a more intimate tour of the offices we thought it would be important for them to know. We had a financial presentation from our director of financial aid, which was very helpful.”    

The program leaders also helped move in first-generation students whose parents were unable to come to orientation.    

Mesinas, the first in her family to go to college, set up the First-Generation program to help first-year students in her position transition to college smoothly.    

“I had an academic shock in terms of the rigor of courses here,” she said. “As a first-generation college student I had some challenges such as the academics and sometimes financial issues. Overall Scripps was great with me. I got the support I needed from the respective offices, but again I realized I wasn’t alone in facing these challenges.”   

Eligibility for First-Generation @ Scripps is based on student self-identification as a first-generation college student on the Common Application, Peters said. Mesinas and Peters personally contact admitted students by e-mail, letters and phone calls.    

Christina Kang SC ’14 participated in the first-ever First-Generation @ Scripps pre-orientation program.    

“I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who is extended a letter,” she said.    

Kang said First-Generation @ Scripps gave her a lot of exposure to various parts of the college.   

“There were days where we had workshops with professors who agreed to talk to us about anything. We talked to the financial aid people,” Kang said. “I am an office assistant at [Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment] and I got that job because I knew what SCORE was and I got to introduce myself to people on campus. We were exposed to a lot of administrators, faculty, staff before everyone came. Some faculty members remember me from that one-hour session they held. It is such a welcoming environment because they are so excited to see the first-years.”    

The college does not use First-Generation @ Scripps to recruit students, but admissions officers discuss the program with parents who are curious about the college adjustment process, Peters said.

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