BMCC Receives National Honor for Commitment to First-generation Student Success

May 10, 2019

First ForwardBorough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) has been included in the inaugural cohort of the First Forward Institutions, an initiative of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

BMCC was one of just three two-year institutions among the 80 colleges and universities nationwide that was selected to join the cohort.

The First Forward designation recognizes higher learning institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Institutions selected to the cohort will receive professional development, community-building experiences and a first look at the Center’s research and resources.

At BMCC, more than 53 percent of students are the first in their family to attend college, according to data gathered from financial aid applications. A growing body of research suggests that a combination of simple nudges and check-ins with a mentor helps first-generation students feel more confident about navigating the maze of college life.

In 2017, BMCC piloted the Panther Partners, a program designed specifically for students at BMCC whose parents did not attend college. Developed by the BMCC New Student Programs and the Division of Student Affairs, the program provides students with a mentor—“coach panther partner”— who offers personal support and encouragement, throughout their time at BMCC.

Student participants are paired with BMCC faculty and staff whom are also first-generation college students. Panther Partners also has a number of mandatory workshops that cover topics including: Academic Achievement through Academic Advisement, Knowing your Finances and Goal Setting and Asking for Help.

“The Center is so pleased to welcome BMCC into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions. Through the application process, it was evident that BMCC is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

BMCC Panther Partners Program Coordinator Rahana Belle-Jerome said the recognition into the cohort is an acknowledgement of the work BMCC has done for this student population.

“We will engage with a broad cohort and regional communities of peer institutions willing to consult on challenges, share resources and evidence-based practices and celebrate program successes; gain access to professional development webinars, workshops, and conferences to strengthen our campus knowledge base of first generation college student success,” said Belle-Jerome.

“First Forward is an exciting opportunity for BMCC to join an elite community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge, and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First Forward cohort and know BMCC will be a significant contributor,” said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at BMCC visit the Panther Partners website.

  • BMCC one of three two-year colleges, out of 80 nationwide to be named to cohort
  • Designation recognizes institutions that have demonstrated commitment to advancing first generation student success
  • More than 53 percent of BMCC students are first generation

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