August 2012

It seems ages ago that our 28 Scholars, student worker, and study hall supervisors gathered for a two-day retreat at Whitewater State Park. Writing goals and burning last year’s regrets, struggling to get the evening bonfire going, composing letters to donors, hikes, cooking and cleaning filled their time–facilitated by complete lack of internet connection. Research documents the importance of a peer support system for students who are first in their family to go to college, and a sense of “familia” pervaded the camp as “older” Scholars welcomed our six new freshman Scholars.





December 2012

Exciting Scholar accomplishments first semester 2013!

  • Seven on the Dean’s List
  • Two posted 4.0 GPAs
  • Two invited to their department honor societies
  • Two serving as class officers
  • One elected a Psych club officer


As Dr. Highland, our former provost, used to say at every commencement, “We all know this was not a singular accomplishment.” The combination of instructors who have high expectations and give high support, Student Success Center services, study hall monitors who are outstanding academics, and intrusive advising by our Literacy Specialist makes our Saint Mary’s program a national model for helping high-need, high-potential students of color who are first in their family reach the finish line–a college degree!




May, 2013

The challenges and successes of first-generation programs are featured in two national presentations by our staff.  Brother Ed and Jane Anderson presented at the Huether Lasallian Conference: Educating First-Generation College Students for Social Justice and Global Citizenship.

In May, the FGI staff and Dr. Esther Peralez (in absentia) presented at the prestigious National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE): Ensuring Success for Culturally Diverse Learners and Their Instructors at a Predominantly White Rural Institution.




Our Scholars are defying the odds!

According to statistics, first-generation students are four times more likely to drop out of college, and 89% of low-income first-generation students fail to finish (  Our statistics:

  • WINONA, MN – APRIL 10, 2013: The First Generation Initiative at St Mary’s University of Minnesota. Photo by John Lee. COPYRIGHT 2013 JOHN LEE PICTURES

    100% of our Scholars are returning for the 2013-14 academic year

  • 10 will graduate in May 2014
  • 20 earned GPAs above 3.0 this semester
  • Six are on the Dean’s List
  • One earned a GPA of 4.0
  • Two are studying abroad in Italy and Spain
  • Two are completing internships: One coaching special needs adults in a community play, another serving in a Sierra Leone orphanage where he grew up




Coming soon!  First graduating class for C2C

Four summers ago, 25 rising 9th graders from our partner Nativity and San Miguel schools started their countdown to college in our academic boot camp. This July, 22 will graduate by presenting a research proposal for investigating a water ecology issue in their home environments. It seems like only yesterday that we heard these words from Manny Hurtado:

We, the scholars in C2C, are the first in our families to, hopefully, go to and graduate from college. We all are shooting for the stars. We are the lucky 25, the first to be a part of this amazing first-generation initiative.




Where we started: Our K-16 Partnership


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