$1.2 million investment helps first-generation Davenport University students reach success

With the help of more than $1.2 million in gifts, Davenport University’s investment in the success of first-generation students is seeing significant results. New first-generation programs and intervention efforts have improved the retention of participating students to 78%. 

“First-generation students are the first in their families to attend college or obtain a degree and often face greater challenges than their peers,” said Dr. Richard J. Pappas, president of Davenport University. “Davenport has committed to helping these students, who represent almost 40% of our student population, achieve their dreams of an education by working to remove many of the barriers they often experience.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, first-generation students are two times as likely to drop out of college as students whose parents have a bachelor’s degree.  

Through the First-Generation Student Success Initiative, Davenport University provides support services to first-generation students, and offers continuous training to staff and faculty so they understand and address students’ unique needs. The university also offers additional scholarship support and establishes a communication system for first-generation students and parents so they understand the initiative’s services and opportunities.

“Davenport is uniquely gifted, with more than 60% of our faculty and staff being first-generation students themselves, to help meet the vast needs of our first-gen students,” said Dr. Jodi Hicks, director of the First-Generation Student Success Initiative and Student Transitions and Academic Readiness. “Ultimately, this initiative will ensure that more first-generation students graduate.”

Davenport has expanded the First-Generation Student Success Initiative to all of its campuses and currently works with more than 70 students in the peer mentoring program. Hicks said that as the initiative grows and first-generation students continue to see increased support, Davenport’s efforts will have far-reaching effects.

“We are not only supporting and celebrating first-generation students currently enrolled with us, but we also recognize the life-changing impact their success may ultimately have on the opportunities made available to future generations,” Hicks said.

Supporters of the university have committed more than $1.2 million in scholarship and program support for first generation students. These generous donors include:

  • Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation
  • Eileen DeVries Family Foundation
  • Robert and Joyce Hetzler
  • J.C. and Tammy Huizenga
  • M.E. Davenport Legacy Fund
  • Michael and Michelle Van Dyke
  • Dr. and Mrs. Leonard Zazula, BS ’79

Aniesha Loupe is a recent graduate and peer mentor participant. “My favorite parts are seeing students become less stressed out because they have extra support to gain university resources, and hearing about their growth as students.” Loupe said. “I want first-generation students to know they can use all the resources that are available to them, that they don’t have to go through college alone and that building a community will be one of the most important factors of their experience.”

To learn more about Davenport’s First-Generation Student Success Initiative, click here. 


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