LIFT program

for first-generation students

College is different than high school. It’s more rigorous and the language is different (what is the registrar’s office and what do they do?) If your parents can’t help—if they never went to college themselves—who can help you learn this new world?

You can actually find your answers at Lilly Library. Librarians are an excellent source of knowledge at Earlham College (and everywhere!) And, luckily for you, if you’re a first-generation student, you’ve been automatically added to a program that pairs you with one of these knowledgeable librarians.

What is the LIFT program?

As a first-generation student at Earlham College, you’re a part of the LIFT Program. This program matches small groups of first-generation students with a personal research librarian during seven weeks of fall semester. By meeting for 90 minutes for one session per week with their librarian, LIFT students undertake a one-credit tutorial in information literacy.

The tutorial occurs within the context of assigned weekly readings, research and discussion based on current events, using media like The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Earlham Word, and TED Talks. To gain additional perspectives on current events, students will utilize a toolkit of library resources including Credo, Academic Search Premier, JSTOR and subject-specific databases (e.g. PsycINFO). The result is such that students will engage with trending issues while acquiring research competencies, library experience and personal connections with an Earlham administrative faculty member and a few of their classmates in a small-group setting.

In the spring, the LIFT Program partners with Earlham’s Center for Career Education to offer a course based on career discernment, designed to help students learn how to find research and apply for internship opportunities. LIFT students can get an extra funded internship or research experience through this course—that’s in addition to the Epic Advantage you already have as an Earlhamite.

Fully funded off-campus term

LIFT-off with us to another country! As an incoming LIFT student, you are eligible to apply for an all-expenses-paid immersive term at the end of your first year (pending developments and guidelines regarding COVID-19). The 2023 cohort will be going to Germany and the Netherlands. In the past, LIFT cohorts went to Montréal (2017), Hawai’i (2018) and Italy (2019).


LIFT Program works with first-generation students residing in the USA and assumed to be citizens based on demographic data supplied in the Earlham admissions process. Definitions of “first-generation” vary. Like many schools, Earlham has adopted the Federal Government Department of Education TRiO Program definition of first-generation to ascertain LIFT eligibility:

  1. An individual for whom both parents did not complete a baccalaureate degree
  2. In the case of any individual who regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, an individual whose only such parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree

International students are not eligible for LIFT at the moment; they instead work with an international student adviser and participate in support initiatives managed by the Center for Global Education.

Student goals

As a LIFT student, you will:

  • Identify library resources and campus services to support your curricular and co-curricular lives
  • Practice and engage with ideas of ethical behavior while finding, using and sharing information
  • Read, evaluate and interpret media coverage of trending issues and current events, including those that affect first-generation college students
  • Develop community through intentional dialogue with a group of peers from similar and diverse backgrounds
  • Explore potential career and internship interests with faculty guides
  • Experience unique opportunities focused around research and learning to present findings

Paving the way

These students have been there, done that! They’re LIFT students who did outstanding things while at Earlham College—and beyond. Learn more about our proud LIFT alumni.

Marisol Cora-Cruz photo

Marisol Cora-Cruz ’23

LIFT Student Awarded Prestigious Scholarship

Congratulations! Marisol Cora-Cruz was selected for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s top undergraduate awards given in the natural sciences, engineering or mathematics.

She’s interested in the medical field—interning with a public health school where they focus on researching substance abuse, violence, HIV/AIDS, mental health, and COVID-19 for the city’s Hispanic population.

She was also a LIFT student, proving that students who participate in the LIFT program go on to break boundaries and change the world.

Marisol Cora-Cruz photo

Kendra Parker ’21

LIFT Student Establishes MAPS

Making space for underrepresented students! Kendra Parker worked with a classmate back in 2019 to establish Earlham College’s chapter of MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-medical Students). At the time of founding, Kendra said she wanted to play a role in promoting better diversity in medicine.

Kendra is now in the medical field herself. She is currently a grad student working in a neuroscience research lab. She is studying episodic fear memory, due to a belief that incorrect storage of this information leads to PTSD, Depression, and other mental illness.

But she started as a LIFT student at Earlham College. And the program helped support her as a first-generation student, teaching her skills that would help her throughout her academic career.

“I didn’t come from an academic home that could help me with this,” she says. “These people showed me the ropes—they were always available for me to call and I feel like I would not be successful without them.”

Marisol Cora-Cruz photo

Megan Bennett ’20

LIFT Student Becomes Watson Fellow

Outstanding! Megan Bennett was a first-generation student who came to Earlham already familiar with the college (as her family resided in our own backyard in Richmond, Indiana). But it was with the LIFT Program that she found her sense of belonging.

“I wanted to join the LIFT program because sometimes I felt doubtful or lost, so I wanted a community of other first-generation students,” she says.

And between the LIFT-off term she took in Montréal, Canada (pictured) and the support system she found in her cohort, Megan flourished on campus. She was even selected for the prestigious Watson Fellowship.

[The Montréal LIFT immersive term], when I look back years from now, will always be the starting point into my ‘fire.’ I know I can go out and wander a city now, I know I can make new friends, even if we don’t click exactly. Montréal is the beginning of my path to change the world and hit the ground running, and I’ve done a surprising amount of running here, alongside those new friends.”

Testimonial from Montréal Immersive Term 2017

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.