Christine de Denus P'22
Associate Professor of Chemistry and FGI Director

How do I know if I am a first generation college student?

Hobart and William Smith Colleges defines first generation college students as being the first in their direct families to graduate from a traditional four-year college. If your parent and/or guardian has received an Associate Degree, or attended a two-year college, you are also still a first generation college student.

My sibling graduated or will graduate from college before I do. Am I still a first generation college student?

Yes! You are still a first generation college student, even if you have a sibling who graduated before you.

FGI ceremony

My parents graduated from college, but not HWS. Am I a first generation college student?

Unfortunately, no, you are not considered a first generation college student if your parents graduated from another four-year institution.

What resources does the First Generation Initiative provide students?

The First Generation Initiative provides a space in which students, families, faculty, staff, and alumni/ae can share their experiences. The Initiative organizes meet and greets, informational sessions, conferences, and fun activities throughout the year. Our goal is to provide a safe space in which our community can support one another. Students also have access to the FGI Center, located on the ground floor of Sherrill Hall, which serves as a quiet study and activity space.

What resources does the First Generation Initiative provide families?

Alongside other HWS departments, the First Generation Initiative provides resources for its families and students. We connect families with fellow first generation students, alumni/ae, faculty, and staff. Our community meets multiple times per semester to discuss our experiences and provide support for one another. Some of this support includes financial aid and FAFSA Q&A sessions, study abroad panels, scholarship information sessions, and residential assistant information sessions.

Who on the HWS campus is a First Generation college student?

Approximately 20% of our student population are first generation college students. We have a wide array of faculty, staff, and campus leaders who were also first generation college students. Our community comes from diverse backgrounds, with a multitude of interests and experiences. We have different fields of study, internship opportunities, study abroad experiences, extra-curricular interests, research opportunities, etc.

What kinds of social activities did the FGI have in the past year?

Some of the activities included attending Homecoming and Family weekend events together, having popcorn and movie nights in the FGI Center, and annual dinners. The FGI has also offered opportunities for students to bake goodies (cookies, cupcakes, fudge, etc) and take them during the final exam period to enjoy.