• Sara Rimer

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Sara Rimer

    Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald, Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times, where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

    She can be reached at srimer@bu.edu.

Comments & Discussion

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There are 9 comments on Maria Dykema Erb Was a First-Generation Student. Now She’s Here to Help BU’s First-Gens

  1. So, so glad to have you here at BU, Maria! Looking forward to all these wonderful initiatives to support our first gen students, undergrads and grad/professional, on all our campuses!

  2. This is an encouraging read with the potential to change lives. Not only do some first-gen students not know where to go for information about their benefits, but they might also not be understood. Maria’s response about cultural competence hit the spot because I feel like I can absolutely relate. I’m excited to see how the Newbury Center continues to flourish.

  3. I am very excited to have Maria as a colleague. BU is very lucky to have someone so dedicated, and who understands from a first-hand perspective and but sees the value in diverse experiences and the value it brings to a global university like BU.

    I, too, would have loved someone like her, and access to a place like the Newbury Center when I was a student, experiencing college as a first-gen immigrant.

  4. Sara Rimer’s incredible journalistic talent captures the true essence of Maria’s journey in this interview, and how many of the families felt during these critical life altering moments.

    Maria sums it up beautifully when she talks to us about why she decided to champion this cause AND how she felt 28 years ago, which led her to this mission.

    Well done Maria and all the best.


  5. Welcome to Boston University, Maria. I love your vision for the Newbury Center as well as your commitment and dedication to helping First-Gen students thrive at BU. There is no doubt that you will be a great addition to the BU community! I look forward to working in partnership with you.

  6. In all honesty, my time at BU was miserable, for pretty much all of the reasons listed above. I remember falling out of a friend group because I was balancing school with a job and they felt that I wasn’t spending enough time with them. I remember the judgemental looks when I wasn’t familiar with a cultural reference. I remember feeling inadequate because I wasn’t working unpaid internships during the summer. I had to turn down a assistantship in a class because I needed the hours at work. I was told by a professor at the beginning of a course that I couldn’t arrange to take a single makeup lab mid-course in order to have my schedule work to maximize my weekly hours at work because my “boss would understand” and “this is what the real world is like”. I didn’t understand compound interest and my options for funding my education. I didn’t know what my career options were. I didn’t understand the value of networking. I didn’t even realize that there was a place I could go for career advising.

    It’s really, really great to hear that students will have a resource like this, led by someone who understands the population she is serving. It is restoring my faith in this institution. I truly hope it helps.

  7. Welcome, Maria! This was a refreshing perspective, and one that is so needed here at BU. As someone who works in international education, I’m looking forward to seeing the collaborations you’re hoping to engage in with the study abroad office on campus!

  8. Sounds like a good idea to support students. But, please remember even students that are not “first generation” students wind up with on-campus jobs serving their fellow students, and often don’t have pocket money. I attended a small New England college as an undergrad where I worked at the front desk of the library checking out books, drove the security escort van moving my fellow students from one spot to another, etc. Spring Break meant going home because the dorm closed, not traveling to Mexico. And my parents both had college educations. I gotta say, we were a bit confused by the FA forms too. :-)

  9. Excited to welcome the Newbury Center to campus, and to learn about their programs and events. We all have a role to play in supporting a positive student experience and making our campus environment inclusive.

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