First-Generation and Low-Income Students

Fearless First Logo

A community of fearless firsts

Dreams are universal, but opportunities aren’t always. That’s why we’re committed to opening more pathways for more people to achieve their goals. From your first day, you’ll find a strong network and support system as well as a vibrant community of students, alums, faculty and staff with shared experiences. It’s a key reason that we’ve been recognized as a college where first-generation and low-income students thrive.

Am I a first-generation or low-income student?

At Mount Holyoke, we recognize a variety of experiences and circumstances that may contribute to your identity as a first-generation or low-income student. The descriptions below are meant to help you determine if you identify as first-generation or low-income. Our community recognizes that these identities and definitions are fluid and embody a diverse group of individuals who hold multiple identities.

At Mount Holyoke College, first-generation is defined as a situation in which neither parent of a student has earned a four-year degree. First-generation students can be self-defining domestic or international students who:

  • Are the first to attend a four-year university and attain a college degree
  • Did or do not have parents, guardians or family systems to assist them in navigating the college process.
  • Have current parents or family systems who did not attend a traditional four-year institution and attain a college degree.

First-generation college students can include:

  • Domestic and international students.
  • Students from any income status (low, middle, and/or upper).
  • Students of all ages.
  • International students whose parent(s), one or both, did not attend college in the U.S.

A low-income household is one whose income is low relative to other households of the same size in their area/region. In the United States, a household is commonly classified as low-income and may be eligible for certain types of government assistance, including Federal Pell Grant, if its income is less than two times the poverty threshold, as determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2021, a family of four living in the 48 contiguous states or Washington, D.C. would be considered low income if their household income was less than $53,000.

Campus Voices

What will your stories be?

Shanthini Ragoonaden ’24


Liz Almonte ’24


Hilary Ng Wunt Sang ’24


On campus resources for First-Generation and Low-Income Students

FLIP, Mount Holyoke’s First Generation and Low-Income Partnership, is a student organization for first-generation and low-income students. Their purpose is to help students find community within an institution that is traditionally affluent and built on legacy. FLIP sponsors events and conferences designed to orient first-generation and low-income students.

Learn more on the FLIP Mount Holyoke facebook page, or email FLIP at

Located in Blanchard 107, the Fearless First Resource and Community Center is a resource and community space for first-generation and low-income students. The center includes textbooks, academic resources, seasonal clothing, appliances, hygiene products and more. For more information contact

Fearless First Academy logo

Fearless First Academy is a pre-orientation program for new, first-generation and/or low-income students and their families to become acclimated to Mount Holyoke College. The academy helps create a sense of community through:

  • Skills and tools necessary to navigate MHC new student orientation.
  • Connections with other incoming new students who have journeyed similar pathways to college
  • Opportunities to participate in community-building activities and workshops designed to help students thrive academically and personally.
  • An understanding of the “hidden curriculum” of higher education and how you can thrive academically.
  • Knowledge about Mount Holyoke’s many on-campus resources and how to navigate them.
  • Opportunities to explore and learn more about the many resources in western Massachusetts that support first-generation and low-income students and students from the global majority.

Most sessions will be live-virtual sessions. All live sessions will be recorded and available for viewing on Moodle

The Fearless First Academy is sponsored by the Division of Student Life and coordinated by the First-gen Network in collaboration with the Office of Community and Belonging.

If you are a student and would like to sign up to be a part of the Fearless First Program please sign up.

  • Students who sign up will receive information about all of the programs and services provided through MHC to support all FGLI students. 

Mount Holyoke College has several faculty, staff and administrators who provide support services for first-generation and low-income college students. This includes academic deans and members of the Office of Student Success and Advising, the Division of Student Life and many more.

Did and/or do you identify as a first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) student? In effort to increase visibility of the first-generation and low-income faculty and staff community for first-generation students, the First-Generation College Student Network is asking all faculty and staff who identify to fill out our online form to be connected with the larger FGLI community and/or be listed on our FGLI list in our faculty/staff database.

First-Generation College Student Network

The First-Generation College Student Network is composed of administrators, faculty and staff whose work (i.e., educational research, practice, advisement, services and programmatic initiatives based on their job portfolio) influences the retention, persistence and matriculation of first-generation college students at Mount Holyoke College. The purpose of the first-generation work group is to provide programmatic initiatives necessary to supporting first-generation college students at MHC.

Department and affiliated faculty

Iris Carpio

  • Head Volleyball Coach
  • Lecturer in Physical Education and Athletics


Roshonda DeGraffenreid FP'10

  • Senior Associate Director, External Relations
  • Posse Scholars Mentor

Latrina L. Denson

  • Associate Dean of Students, Community and Belonging
  • Deputy Title IX Coordinator (Students)

Anna Hope Ph.D.

  • Associate Director

Christina Lafreniere

  • Associate Director of Student Financial Services

Kimberly Parent

  • Associate Dean of Studies
  • Academic Dean for New Students

Rachael Smith

  • Director of Discovery & Access
  • Posse Scholars Mentor

Happening at Mount Holyoke

First-generation news

More than 120 students participated in the twentieth annual Stoling Ceremony. The Commencement weekend tradition celebrates the achievements of students of color and honors their Mount Holyoke mentors.

Mount Holyoke professor Marta Sabariego and a group of neuroscience majors led a bilingual workshop for first graders at Edward Nelson White School in Holyoke to understand the intricacies of the brain and inspire them to pursue careers in science.

The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives at Mount Holyoke has received a grant to support first-generation and low-income students in obtaining their U.S. passports.

Contact us

The Office of Community and Belonging provides programs that support social justice education, dialogue, celebration and identity development.