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There are 4 comments on POV: As We Observe First-Gen College Celebration Day, a Note of Thanks to BU’s Newbury Center

  1. Wonderful piece! I think the Newbury Center is a great addition to support first-gen students at BU. When I attended college (at a similar university to BU), all of my friends could easily afford college, so I downplayed how many hours I worked at my three part-time jobs to support myself. My undergraduate experience felt very isolating in a lot of ways because of this. When I taught as a teaching fellow and instructor at BU, I always tried to share with my students that I had been low-income, Pell grant recipient, need-based + merit-based scholarship recipient, and had a work study + two additional part-time jobs. I hope more students can feel proud of all that they accomplish during college (not just scholastic or academic achievements), such as maintaining part-time jobs and course loads. Congrats Johnson on thriving in a rigorous undergraduate program- it is a big accomplishment! Newbury Center will certainly be a great resource for generations of students to come.

  2. This is an excellent piece! It really highlights the necessity and importance of what Newbury Center can provide for struggling students. Boston University has a wide diversity of students, and that includes social class. I am sure that there are many first-generation students who have no idea how to navigate college life. Without aid or a guide from family members, I can see how life as a first-generation college student would be difficult. It really is an uphill battle to survive and study for a degree.

    It is also eye-opening to hear about the necessity of taking three jobs at once to survive. It is remarkable that you had studied, worked, and participated in extracurricular activities throughout your college experience. It highlights the increasing hurdles that people who are financially struggling must face to keep up with the financially stable.

    Apparently, the median income for household income of Boston University students is $141,000. Yet, 42% of students receive financial assistance. This income disparity between some students could have led to the isolation of students from different social classes. With that said, the creation and opening of Newbury Center is a breath of fresh air for the students in need of assistance. It is refreshing to know that aid is available for first-generation students.

    It is unfortunate how some students must face more challenges and work than others to get to the same place. The opening of Newbury Center is a massive aid in helping students to navigate adult life at college. The aid and support that the center offers are a game changer for people struggling with college life. Help in navigating the financial system, academic support, and research opportunities is essential in surviving in the modern world.

    Johnson, it is inspiring to know how Newbury Center was able to assist you to defy the odds and aided you to graduate BU. If students are given proper aid and support through their troubles, they can thrive as undergraduate students. I know that Newbury Center will be an essential resource for many different students to succeed in their undergraduate program.

  3. Great piece of writing! Not only has Johnson told a compelling personal story about his undergraduate journey, but this piece serves as just another “centralized list” of resources he mentioned were offered by the Newbury Center. Although I am not a first-generation college student, I think it’s generally accepted that thinking about how to navigate college starts far before you actually enroll. In high school, I was a tutor for mostly first-gen students studying for the ACT, so I was able to begin to understand some of the challenges faced. One thing I found interesting, and also challenging, seemed to be the changing needs of first-gen students throughout their higher-education experience. From “pre-college” questions that I tried to answer, such as ACT planning and FAFSA loan inquiries, to “in-college” challenges, such as the work-study and career opportunities Johnson mentioned, support for first-gen students starts early and must continue throughout the higher-ed experience.

    I do wonder how Boston University plans to continue adapting to the changing needs of its students. If there are more first-gen students in the coming years, as Johnson mentioned, and as the costs of living and education continue to rise, I hope BU can continue to help meet the needs of new students. However, with great stories like this and the inevitable success of many more like Johnson, I am confident the Newbury Center can expand its impact and further support first-gen students at Boston University.

  4. Johnson, I came back to reflect on your piece after your TEDx talk on the inequalities of the American Justice system, and I really appreciate how your tackle such deep and personal topics. Your expressions on the challenges and struggles first generation students’ face is raw and meaningful. Expressing your gratitude and the positive impact that the B.U. Newbury Center has had on your experience and a first generation college student puts a lot into perspective, especially as Boston University students tend to get wrapped up in complaining about minute administrative details.

    Academic pressure to succeed is so high at Boston University. This coupled with financial struggles, food and financial insecurities, and other responsibilities is so difficult, and I am glad you have highlighted how the Newbury Center has aided in offering first generation students different opportunities and relief, since college can be such a high stakes environment.

    Although I cannot relate to some of these struggles, you have overcome a lot, which juggling heavy responsibilities, and managed to highlight the impacts that the Newbury Center has had on you and your education, which is huge. I hope you are really proud of yourself for sharing this story and information with other students, since this piece sheds light and spreads awareness of places where other first generation students may find help and aid in a hard to navigate environment and time.

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