PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University’s First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center celebrated its official opening on Sept. 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception in its new, dedicated space in the University’s Sciences Library.
In joining students, faculty and staff from Brown at the opening ceremony, Brown President Christina Paxson said the center will serve as a vital resource for students who are the first in their family to attend college or come from a low-income background — and acknowledged the essential role that Brown students played in the creation of the center, the first of its kind in the country.
“Students here have a lot to be proud of. Not just for what you are doing on this campus, but for what you are doing around the country. It's really remarkable," she said.
The center — dubbed the FLi Center or FLiC by the students and staff members who participated in its launch — serves students who identify with any aspect of the first-generation or low-income experience, including international, undocumented, transfer and graduate students.
“If we want to be a leading institution in the 21st-century, we have to attract the very best and brightest students to our campus,” Paxson said. “And those students come from around the globe, from around the country, from all economic classes, from all races and ethnicities. And this center sends a signal out saying we’re open to everybody and we want incredibly talented students no matter what their background.”
Initiatives and programs housed at the center include the First-Generation College Student Program, as well as affiliated student organizations, including First-Gens at Brown, the Sidney Frank Scholars Association, QuestBridge Scholars at Brown, the Gates Millenium Scholars at Brown, and the Bonner Community Fellows (a program of the Swearer Center).
At the ceremony, Paxson also announced the creation of a full-time staff position to support the center.
Other speakers at the event included Brown Provost Richard M. Locke, Alexis Rodriguez-Camacho and Monica Yang, current co-presidents of First-Gens at Brown, and Viet Nguyen and Emily Doglio, the organization’s inaugural co-presidents.
In their comments, which closed the ceremony, Rodriguez-Camacho and Yang stressed the importance of having a physical space in which to make connections with others who have a similar lived experience. Yang described the progress that has been made at Brown and nationally in decreasing stigma around being a first generation or low-income student, as well as the importance of acknowledging the unique experience of every student who identifies as such.
“We each come with different stories," said Yang. “To be first-gen or low-income looks different in each and every one of us. We are undergraduates, transfers, RUE, masters, doctoral, medical, undocumented, international. We are professors, parents, alumni, staff and much more. When you ask yourself, ‘What does Brown look like?’ Brown looks like us.”