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Binghamton University Launches Program For Mentoring First Generation College Students

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VESTAL, N.Y. -

Binghamton University has launched a new program to connect first generation students with faculty and staff who were also the first in their families to go to college. 

Assistant Director of TRIO Student Services at the university, Marissa Zelman, says the BFirst mentoring program was a passion project for her. Zelman herself was a first generation college student and says there are certain barriers for these students that their peers may not be experiencing. Zelman says this includes not having anyone at home who can help advise them on classes to sign up for and navigating the higher education system. 

At the launch event on Friday, students were able to meet other first generation students and connect with faculty who were in their shoes while at school. 

"Our program is looking to enhance their graduation rates and retention, but more importantly have them feel welcome in a place where they may not feel welcome. And that sense of belonging can really improve retention and graduation rates without other resources that are already available," says Zelman.

Zelman says while she doesn't have the exact numbers available yet as to how many first generation students are enrolled at the university, it's a much higher percentage than the 20% reported five years ago.