New initiative connects first-gen student with first-gen alumni mentors

New initiative connects first-gen student with first-gen alumni mentors Image
New initiative connects first-gen student with first-gen alumni mentors September 21, 2017

Remember what it was like starting on the great adventure – college -- at Cleveland State University? If you were lucky, you had a mentor or someone who could give you advice on what to expect, answer questions about navigating an urban campus, and help you succeed.

Many of Cleveland State’s students are first-generation college students.  According to the The First Generation Foundation website, nationally, "Close to 40 percent are the first in their families to attend college.  Nationally, 89 percent of low-income first-generation students leave college within six years without a degree. More than a quarter leave after their first year — four times the dropout rate of higher-income second-generation students."

In a recent article in Crain’s Cleveland Business, former student athlete Sebastian Douglas and Head of the Athletics visiting committee discussed how important the mentoring relationship is to students.   Douglas calls the experience "phenomenal."  It kept him on track and led to connections to find a job after CSU.  They’ve both built life-long relationships from the connections they both made.  Andy experience mentorship from both sides.  His experience at the Naval Academy as a mentee and as  Mentor to CSU students.  Andy said, “I was exposed to how it can be extremely rewarding for the mentor as well as the person being mentored…”

The alumni office is building a program to help our large population of first generation students.  It will be called FirstVike. The goal is to create a program that gives first generation college students at CSU an opportunity to work with alumni who were also first generation.  This allows students to interact with someone that had a similar experience.  Our intention is to boost the retention of students by giving them a mentor and tools to help them succeed.  We also hope to build connections they can use for career seeking and advancement.

If you were a first generation student and would like to help with this program, contact John McCreery at 216.523.7297 or email at to learn more about the program.