Yale hosted several events for members of the first-generation, low-income community over October break to help students to bond with each other.
Yale’s chapter of QuestBridge — a scholarship organization that matches FGLI high school students with universities — hosted a trip to East Rock and a mixer for Yale’s numerous Questbridge scholars. The FGLI student ambassadors, who were appointed as a part of Yale College’s new FGLI Community Initiative this summer, hosted a trip to Savers, a local thrift store, in which upper level students who identify as FGLI helped younger Yalies choose cold-weather clothing for the frigid New Haven winters.
According to a FGLI ambassador Samantha Wood ’20, the FGLI student ambassador program has existed informally since last year, but it has expanded significantly this fall. She added that while an FGLI study group last year attracted only about three students, over 100 Yalies attended this year’s opening dinner for the FGLI community.
“Our main project is to make being FGLI something that can provide a good source of community for people who are from that background,” Wood said. “Because at Yale, there are not a lot of people who are from this background, and if you are, there’s often pressure to fit in, to make it invisible, that you’re from this background. So we’re trying to make it so that it’s something people can be comfortable with, even be proud of.”
Wood emphasized the importance of hosting activities for the FGLI community over school breaks because for many such students, traveling home is a financial burden. She added that the ambassadors are planning to host cooking events during Thanksgiving break, since the dining halls close for a portion of that recess.
Natalia Taylor ’21, the president of the Yale chapter of QuestBridge, hosted a hike to East Rock Park with five members of the Questbridge community, and held a mixer at Benjamin Franklin College that attracted about 40 people. Taylor said that QuestBridge’s executive board has a tentative events schedule planned for Thanksgiving break. She added that the group hopes to have a dedicated space of their own on campus.
José Yobani López Sánchez ’18, a Woodbridge Fellow for the Center for Teaching and Learning whose responsibilities are geared toward planning FGLI events throughout the academic year, also said that he looks forward to future expansion of programs for the FGLI community.
“I felt really good about the thrift store trip,” said López. “We had roughly 15 students during our trip, and I think even though it felt like a small thing, I’m excited to have more of these kind of one-time, just random things that are very practical.”
López added that while many FGLI programs are still in burgeoning stages, there is an ongoing discussion about how Yale can further integrate FGLI students. According to López, he and his colleagues at the CTL are working on identifying FGLI students’ needs and then investigating how exactly those needs can be met.
Taylor said that this year she was initially surprised by how many FGLI students actually matriculated to Yale this year. Still, she added that she was looking forward to the community growing even more in the future.
“Based on the admissions office letter at the beginning of the year, it seems like the diversity is really increasing, and with that, the FGLI population here at Yale is also increasing and it’s great to see those numbers rise,” Taylor said.
According to YaleNews, 20 percent of the class of 2022 receives a federal Pell Grant for low-income students, while 18 percent of the class is made up of students who are the first in their families to attend a four-year university — the highest percentage in Yale’s history.
Two hundred eighty students in the class of 2022 receive full financial aid, meaning that they have no parental contribution to tuition.
Valerie Pavilonis | firstname.lastname@example.org .