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O’Brien Center for Student Success


Generation Merr1mack

Who is a first generation student?

At Merrimack, first generation (G-1) college students are those who will be the first in their families to graduate with a four-year college degree. 

While all students need time to adjust, if you are the first in your family to attend college you may have additional obstacles to overcome.

Some characteristics of first-generation students are:

  • More likely to work full-time
  • More likely to feel general discomfort on campus
  • More likely to be older
  • Less likely to seek out the support of faculty and peers
  • Have a lower socioeconomic status
  • Have a family, and attend school part-time
  • More likely to commute to campus
  • Less involved in campus life
  • May feel guilty about attending college due to financial strain on the family.
  • More likely to feel academically underprepared
  • Less likely to connect with their non-first generation peers

Approximately 40% of Merrimack students are self-identified first generation. As a first generation college student, you may experience challenges; but you are also a resilient and successful group. Advisors, faculty, and other G-1 peers can be instrumental in your success if you take advantage of the support available.

Generation Merr1mack

Generation Merr1mack is a program offered through the O’Brien Center for Student Success designed to assist incoming first generation college students adapt to campus life, academics and give an overall understanding of college. The program is led by student leaders, faculty, staff and alumni who also identify as being first generation.

Students who participate in Generation Merr1mack develop lasting relationships with faculty, staff and their mentors; get their questions answered; and receive the support they need to become the first in their family to graduate.

Program Components

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentors work to build a strong relationship with mentees. Through small group workshops, social outings, and one-on-one meetings you will have the opportunity to build connections with your mentor and other G-1 students.

Peer Mentors for 2012-2013 Academic year are:

  • Felicia Sorrentino
  • Ashley Pezzone
  • Yorelisa Calcano
  • Ruiqian Zhao
  • Shirley Pereira
  • Fernando Vasquez
  • Keaira “Key” Perry
  • Christina Moreira
  • Samantha Bruno
  • Mariel Batista

Events/Topical Discussions

Fall 2012:

  • Time Management/Goal Setting
  • Hiking Trip to Wachusett Mountain
  • Hayride/Bonfire at Smolak Farms
  • Study Skills
  • Final Exam Group Study Sessions

Spring 2013:

  • Getting Involved
  • The Role of Family in your College Success
  • Financial Awareness
  • Benefits of Paid Experiential Learning

Are you a G-1 Student?

Participation in Generation Merr1mack is voluntary. Students who indicate G-1 status during the college application process are sent letters of invitation prior to the start of their first academic year. For upperclassmen who are considered to be first generation college students, contact us for opportunities to be a part of Generation Merr1mack. Please email us with any questions you may have:

Resources for Students

Learn more about what it means to be a first generation college student. These resources have been compiled specifically for a student’s understanding of the struggles, triumphs, and support for all first generation college students. 
Website featuring tips for G1 students
US News Education about Tips for first generation college students
Interesting first-generation college student stories
Tips for first-generation college students
What to do while planning to go to college, more importantly once you’re here!
What should you keep in mind (checklist)
Defining a true first-generation college student
Sallie Mae, funding access to higher education for college students: first generation
Scholarships for first generation college students

Blog about a first generation a college student who landed an internship that created a source of confidence for him

Resources for Staff & Faculty

It is important for staff, faculty and administrators to be aware of first-generation college students. Resources on the most recent first-generation college student research, findings, and opportunities will allow us to be better prepared to support and assist this population
The Chronicle of Higher Education article about the biggest struggles for G1 students
Institution for Higher Education Policy First Generation College Student Planning - September 2012
First Generation College Student Textbook review
Jeff Davis Book Review
First generation college student literature for staff and faculty from the Carolina Firsts (first generation program) website
Article on advising first generation college students
The Journal Of Higher Education
First-Generation College Students: Additional Evidence on College Experiences and Outcomes
A study of first generation college students and their families
NASPA – Understanding subpopulations: first generation college students

Website devoted to first generation college students providing extended resources in the form of how to fund college, succeed in the college setting, and setting the student up for success after graduation

Show Your Support!

We encourage all first generation college students, staff, faculty, and administrators to stop into the O’Brien Center for Student Success to show your support. If you are the first in your family to graduate from college, you have something to be proud of. We have Generation Merr1mack t-shirts, stickers and magnets!


better quality

Ideas? Comments? Questions?

We are always available to answer any questions you may have about the program or how we can help you navigate your way through campus, and your college career. Please feel free to contact us with questions, comments, and ideas that we may be able to implement. Stop into the O’Brien Center for Student Success M-F 8:30-5PM, call 978-837-5480, or email us at