July 03, 2019

Students in the Take Flight program

Javier Bustamante, director of the Center for Cultural Engagement, started working at the University last fall. Over the last year, he’s focused on hearing the stories of the students who visit his office; a home away from home for students from abroad and members of minority cultures. 

This coming fall, he plans to extend a special welcome to one population of students.

Among the incoming class of new students, Bustamante says approximately one out of every five qualifies as a “first generation” student — they are the first in their immediate family to attend college in the United States. 

Over the past year, the Center for Cultural Engagement staff has worked to implement a program to accompany first-generation students in their transition to college life. By intentionally engaging them in a series of experiences and activities, the staff hopes to ease their transition, help build community, and ensure these students know what resources are available to them and how they can access them. 

“I want to focus not on what they may lack [in resources], but on what they have — the strengths and values that have already helped them to get into college,” Bustamante says.

Two students in the Take Flight programTake Flight is a three-prong program that will include a pre-orientation to introduce students to services and resources available on campus, a series of First Friday workshops that will help refine skills needed for academic success and personal flourishing, and a peer mentorship program.

Thirty students will be invited to participate in Take Flight this year, and Bustamante hopes those students will be able to serve as peer mentors in years to come as the program grows. 

“Our hope is that every first generation student will find the support they need to grow personally and succeed academically,” Bustamante says. “We want them to place their gifts and values at the service of others in our campus and beyond.”

For more information on the program, students can contact Bustamante at bustamantej@cua.edu