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Get it right the first (Generation) time

2009-06-15

Melissa Perks reached more than one milestone when she graduated with distinction, and was class valedictorian at her convocation from St. Lawrence College this spring. Not only was she among the first graduating class of Bachelor of Science in Nursing students from the College, she was also a "First Generation" graduate, the first generation of her immediate family to graduate from a post-secondary institution.

A new initiative at St. Lawrence College, funded by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities, will focus on ensuring the success even greater numbers of First Generation, Aboriginal and rural students. The funds will be used to create unique initiatives to attract more students and support them throughout their journey at the College. Some of the features of the program include a specialized First Generation Student Success Advisor to help students access funding and other student resources, tours of the college, workshops, peer tutoring and academic support, and much more.

St. Lawrence College’s three campuses are located in a largely rural area with more than 50 per cent of our catchments’ population classified rural. Within these regions, more than 60 per cent of the parents of potential students report no post-secondary education.

"With more than 70 per cent of future jobs requiring some form of post-secondary education, clearly a gap exists between what will be needed, and how young people in our communities are getting prepared," said Chris Whitaker, president and CEO of St. Lawrence College. "This research suggests that we have a lot of potential students who will benefit from this new initiative."

For Melissa, who is already busy working as a nurse at an Ottawa hospital, this new funding initiative is welcome news.

"I know how important it is to get a good education in order to be able to pursue my dreams," she said. "Hopefully many more people will benefit from this plan and be able to fulfill their own aspirations for the future."

Many rural, Aboriginal and first generation students experience different stresses than those from cities and from families who have higher education. Through the development of creative strategies, the College will provide opportunities for students that will enhance their college life, create a safe and comfortable environment for personal and cultural growth and provide the means to empower students to take control of their education, futures and ultimate successes.

"We are excited to be able to use these funds to really make a difference. Helping students throughout their journey at St. Lawrence College is what we are all about." said Wanda Williams, director of Student Services.

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