Gift bolsters support for first-generation students | Earlham College Skip to Content

Gift bolsters support for first-generation students

February 14, 2017

A degree-completion program that builds on Earlham’s commitment to college access and post-graduate success has expanded to meet the needs of more students.

Earlham expanded programming this fall for even more first-generation students to erase the challenges in earning a degree through the College's Library Immersion Fellows Team (LIFT). More than 30 students signed up for the program and received a laptop computer, access to mentorship and scholarships that fund off-campus study. Participants will travel to Montreal this spring as part of the program.

“One of our core values is providing access to all students who are serious about receiving a rigorous liberal arts education as a means of pursuing their personal and professional goals,” says Bonita Washington-Lacey, senior associate vice president for academic affairs. “One way we can enhance the likelihood of post-graduate success is by promoting how students utilize technology and access reliable information.”

Increased support for this program comes from a $250,000 gift from Catherine Lemann and the Academic Dean’s office. Three of Lemann’s children attended Earlham.

“For the past three years, it’s been an innovative library program which matches a small cohort group of first-generation students with a personal librarian for seven weeks of first semester,” says Neal Baker, director of Earlham’s libraries. “Now, we’re intentional in our effort to have LIFT students introduced to the very best of an Earlham education and resources to encourage and support their degree completion.”

Last fall, eligible students were grouped into a cohort and completed panels taught by faculty from across the curriculum while learning how to utilize campus resources and gaining research- and career-based skills.

Faculty representing Earlham’s Library, Writing Center, Center for Global Education, and the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program teach courses specifically designed for first-generation students. Topics of the courses span diversity, religion, health sciences, international study, library science, and even preparation for graduate school.

“I would recommend this program to anyone who is the first in their family to go to college,” says Kobe Walker ’20, who plays on the football team and plans to major in Geology. “This is going to not only help me learn effective study and sleep habits but also to prepare for that first big paper I have to write.”

LIFT students who complete a series of panel discussions and complete a reflection journal will also earn credit from the Campus Store. The credit will enable students to purchase needed course materials, addressing one less challenge.

“I think I want to study Geology to address challenges with water in developing countries,” Walker says. “This program and the resources made available to me will go a long way to helping make that a reality.”

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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and



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