Chesick Scholars Program Expands
Currently in its 10th year, the community-building and mentorship program for first-generation, low-income students (FGLI) is growing to include all FGLI students in the incoming class.
The Chesick Scholars Program, which began in 2012 thanks to a pilot grant from the San Francisco Foundation, was designed to welcome, prepare, and support underrepresented students at Haverford and has come to focus on first-generation, low-income (FGLI) Fords. In its first eight years, the program was centered on a residential, on-campus Summer Institute that introduced an invited cohort of 15 incoming first-years to College resources and coursework. The program also included on-going faculty mentorship throughout the students’ time at Haverford, with an emphasis on their first two years. Following last summer’s decision to make the Summer Institute a virtual one due to COVID-19, this year the Chesick Scholars Program is changing further, expanding access for incoming students.
Now, instead of a 15-person cohort, the Chesick Scholars will include all FGLI students in an incoming class. This growth—which means the Chesick Class of 2025 will be roughly 100 students—necessitates some changes in programming. This year, all Chesick Scholars are invited to a series of biweekly summer sessions over Zoom, called First In, and are also invited to attend Horizons, an on-campus, pre-Customs program in late August. The Summer Institute will not take place this year, but the Chesick Mentoring Program, which extends the pre-major advising all Haverford students receive to offer more holistic support for navigating college as FGLI students, remains largely the same—only expanded for the larger cohort—and will continue to involve faculty members as mentors.
“Even though many things are changing, many things are staying the same, too,” said Barbara Hall, interim director of the program and an advising dean. “We’re still deeply committed to partnering as a community of students, faculty, and staff to support and advocate for the amazing FGLI students at Haverford, who contribute in countless ways every day to the intellectual and social life of the college. We’re still working to use the FGLI-focused resources we have to benefit as many students as we can, recognizing that all deserve the best support Haverford can offer. We’re still working together to transform Haverford, and still working to turn increased access into full inclusion.”
The First In seminar series kicked off last week. Over the course of the summer the series will include meetings dedicated to introducing campus support systems; preparing to work with pre-major advisors and deans; and academic, social, and financial preparation for the first-year FGLI student experience on campus. First In also offers opportunities for the incoming students to get to know one another, Chesick staffers, and begin to build community before arrival on campus.
“We are also offering three virtual Summer Reading Groups with faculty, and all of them are full as of now!” said Hall.
All this summer programming is the result of collaboration between Hall; Assistant Dean of FGLI Student Support and Programming Raquel Esteves-Joyce; Chesick Program Coordinator Julian Jackson; Jeff Tecosky-Feldman, an instructor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics who ran the Chesick Summer Institute since its inception; and a group of FGLI Student Leaders.
Beyond the summer, the Chesick Program is getting ready to welcome a new full-time director and is planning to expand its programming for juniors and seniors. Beginning in fall 2021, Chesick’s programming and resources will be organized around four pillars: Belonging and Empowerment, Thriving Academically, Transforming Haverford, and Preparing for Post-Haverford Life.
“FGLI students contribute so much to Haverford, inside and outside of the classroom, and we are lucky to have each and every one of them here,” said Hall. “I am hopeful for the future of the Chesick Scholars Program because the students are phenomenal. … The expansion is an enormously exciting moment for Haverford.”