“This Is My Stepping-stone.” 553 BU First-Generation Students Welcomed into Honor Society

BU Newbury Center ceremony celebrates inaugural members, their determination, contributions blazing new trails

Meet six first-generation college students at Boston University and hear their stories. They were among 553 students, faculty, and staff inducted April 26 as the inaugural members of BU’s Alpha Alpha Alpha honor society for first-gen students.

They didn’t grow up assuming they would go to college. They didn’t have private SAT tutors or coaches to guide them through the application process or parents who could share their own college experiences with them. They had to figure things out on their own, as the first in their family to attend a four-year college in the United States.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Posse,” says Cheyenne Bailey (SPH’21), who won a Posse Foundation academic and leadership scholarship to a small liberal arts college, and who has been chosen as the student speaker for her School of Public Health graduation ceremony.

First-gen students know all about imposter syndrome, that feeling that everyone except you gets the hidden code of college—faculty office hours, creating a social life with ease, knowing which courses to take, jumping at study abroad opportunities.

“My first week at Georgetown, I went to the resident chaplain, and I cried,” says Eduardo Gonzalez (LAW’21). “I told her they had made a mistake admitting me because I didn’t understand anything in my classes.”

The chaplain assured Gonzalez that he did belong at Georgetown, and now he is about to graduate from the School of Law, where he is BU Law Review articles editor. He starts work this fall as a junior associate at WilmerHale’s Boston office.

Composite photo of screenshots taken during the induction ceremony, from left to right, top row to bottom First row, left to right Gino Ibanez (LAW ’21), Joon Shin (Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, ’22), Kelly Nguyen-Williams, program administrator, enrollment and student administration, office of the vice president. Second row, l-r : Nicola Mohan (SSW, master’s degree, ’21), Hector Grande (ENG, ’25), Starr Desmmond, (CFA ’21, master’s degree) Third row, l-r: Christina Michaud, master lecturer, CAS writing program.
Some of the students, faculty, and staff inducted into the Alpha Alpha Alpha Honor Society: (top row, from left) Gino Ibanez (LAW’21), Joon Shin (Wheelock’22), Kelly Nguyen-Williams, Enrollment and Student Administration; (middle row) Nicola Mohan (SSW’21), Hector Grande (ENG’25), Starr Desmond, (CFA’21); (bottom row): Christina Michaud, CAS Writing Program master lecturer, Senila Yasmin (SPH’21), Lisa Rivera, SDM student affairs coordinator. Photos courtesy of Mia Cathell (COM’21).

On April 26, Gonzalez and Bailey were among 553 members of the Boston University community—491 current first-gen students (undergrads and graduate and professional degree students), plus 62 faculty and staff—inducted into BU’s inaugural chapter of the Alpha Alpha Alpha honor society for first-generation students.

Read the full story on BU Today.