Our Team

FGI Team

The FGI Team is composed of dedicated faculty, staff, and students who work directly with the Initiative to provide resources, plan events, and offer support to the community of first generation students and their families as well as first generation faculty, staff, and alumni/ae at HWS.

Director, Christine de Denus

Christine de Denus is the Director of the First Generation Initiative, and a Associate Professor of Chemistry at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  She has been at the Colleges since 1999 and has immersed herself in the community.  She is an organometallic chemist who finds herself teaching introductory, organic, inorganic, structural analysis, and forensic chemistry as well as first-year seminar courses on a regualar basis. In addition to her teaching duties she has spent time as the Associate Dean of Faculty and Associate Provost where her primary duties included curriculum design, development, and review; academic facilities and equipment planning; faculty hiring and development; development and review of academic programs; implementation of new digital pedagogies and initiatives across the curriculum; course scheduling, enrollment, and classroom management/design; oversight and fiscal management of various grants, endowments, and budgets; and directing a vibrant undergraduate summer research program. She is also involved in efforts surrounding Title IX and Bystander trainings, Division III athletics, and LGBTQ education and policy changes. Her personal interests include cooking, reading, biking, home repair, and supporting the musical and athletic pursuits of her two daughters.

Assistant Director, Shelle Basilio-Murray

Shelle is responsible for ensuring the campus residence halls, apartments, and small/theme houses are safe, well-maintained, and provide an engaging, co-curricular experience which connects residents to HWS and the Geneva community. Shelle coordinates and supervises many of the day-to-day responsibilities with the central office team, professional area staff, and paraprofessional (resident assistant and house manager) students. Shelle is also responsible for the recruitment, selection, development and supervision of the professional area staff on-campus. Shelle manages the residential curriculum and overall programming efforts for the department while working with different offices and faculty on-campus to facilitate outreach to students. Shelle also serves as a facilitator for the Personal Empowerment Course at the Colleges.

Shelle graduated from Niagara University with a bachelor's degree in French and Romance languages and a master’s degree in secondary education. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and is often seen walking her dog, Molly around campus.

2019 Summer Interns

Valerie Cuellar '20 (She/Her/Hers) is a POSSE scholar from Los Angeles, CA, and a double major in psychology and philosophy with a minor in LGBT studies. On campus, Val works with the LGBTQ+ resource center and the PRIDE club. She also serves as a senior resident assistant (SRA), going on to her 3rd year of being an RA. She works as a study mentor in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) as well as an student assistant in the office of Smith Hall. Val was inducted into Hai Timiai, the William Smith senior honor society last spring, and will be working with the William Smith Dean’s office to create events for William Smith students. She will also be serving as a part of the junior board of the Latin American Organization (LAO). She is an active leader on campus and works to build communities between students. This summer, Val is working with the FGI as well as the Office of Admissions. Her favorite part of the HWS campus is the dock by the lake.

Henry Gomez '22 (He/Him/His) is from Los Angeles, CA. He is pursuing his undergraduate degree as an intended double major in both math and biology. Henry has made the Hobart Dean’s list throughout his first year and was inducted into the Orange key honor society last spring. On campus, Henry is part of the Hobart cross-country team and is a board member of the Latin American Organization (LAO). He also serves as a treasurer for the campus activities board (CAB). He is a committed worker with America Reads, tutoring children in the Geneva schools. Henry is working the FGI and campus life this summer. His favorite thing to do is explore Geneva and HWS during his free time.

2018 Summer Interns

Tiffany Green '21 (She/her/hers) is from Elmira, N.Y., and is currently undecided on her academic interests. On campus she is a member of Rotaract Club, a member of E-space, and has previously worked for America Reads. Her favorite thing to do on campus is to find a quiet table outside where she can study when the weather is nice. In Geneva, her favorite place to go and eat at is Char Burrito Bar.

Josh Hylkema '21 (He/him/his) is a sophomore from Batavia, N.Y., and is pursuing his undergraduate degree as a double major in both history and music. Through Josh’s first year of college he made the Dean’s list and was inducted into the Orange Key honor society. On top of his academics, Josh participates in the Colleges' Community Wind Ensemble playing the tuba and the Jazz Guitar Band playing the electric bass. He is a member of the Statesman football team, recently became a member of the Colleges' Judicial Board, and he has his own show on the radio station (WHWS 105.7). Josh also has a little brother in the Geneva area through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. This summer, Josh is working on campus with the First Generation Initiative and Admissions offices. His favorite thing to do on campus is to go fishing on the lake, and his favorite place to eat off campus is Cam’s Pizza.

Kels Veeder '21 (He/him/his) is a political science major and theatre minor from Troy, N.Y.  During his first year at HWS, he has become involved on campus by serving as a board member for the Pride Alliance, serving as the Hobart student representative for the Committee on Academic Affairs, serving as a member of Hobart Student Government, and by working as a student coordinator for the First Generation Initiative. He is also a member of the sophomore Hobart honor society, the Orange Key society. His favorite thing to do on campus is to read at the dock, and he looks forward to welcoming first generation students from the Classes of 2022.




Christine de Denus
Associate Professor of Chemistry and FGI Director


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.