Take Flight was launched in 2019 to connect students with services and resources on campus, including a series of skill-building workshops that helped develop healthy habits to ensure academic and personal success.
Fatima Vasquez-Molina, a sophomore with a double major in theology and Hispanic studies, participated in the program last year. “Take Flight was the biggest resource to get connected to all of campus,'' said Vasquez-Molina. “As a commuter and a first-generation student, I was scared that I wasn’t going to find my way through college by myself. But Take Flight was there when I needed it. Through the program I realized that my voice and story are essential to the growth of the CatholicU community.”
This year the program has expanded and will welcome 40 new students, and now has 24 peer mentors. First-year students can participate in “First Friday” skills-building workshops that include tips on self care, healthy study habits, and personal finance. Participants will also be paired virtually with a peer-mentor to help guide them through their first year, and take part in community-building activities throughout the year.
“The thing I appreciate the most is the sense of community I felt being a part of the program. I was in a room full of people that had gone through similar struggles,” said Natalie Carcamo, a sophomore social work major who participated in Take Flight last year. “I am grateful to have met a group of amazing people who I could relate to and for the support system provided by Take Flight. They made us realize our potential and ability to get through any challenges that we may face while in college.”
The program also provides support to second-year students, introducing them to study-abroad opportunities, internships, resume building, alternative spring break, and immersion trips.
Natalie Custodio, a sophomore nursing major, plans to continue in the sophomore program. “I look forward to utilizing the resources that are provided to me, for example how to build connections with others, create a network, and any advice that will help me throughout my sophomore year as a first-gen,” said Custodio.
For the second year, Crimsonbridge Foundation helped make this possible by providing a grant to support the program. The Foundation is an entrepreneurial philanthropic organization that invests in education, leadership development, and capacity building.
“We are committed to working with students, nonprofits, and university-based programs to increase college graduation rates for first-generation students. Not only has Catholic University’s Take Flight Program built a strong community of engaged first-generation students, it is also demonstrating that through the development of resources and programs that meet these students’ needs, we can increase retention,” said Executive Director of Crimsonbridge Foundation, Danielle Reyes.
“I hope the incoming students feel the same sense of belonging I got from this program,” said Carcamo. “Nothing is more reassuring than knowing you have a group of people rooting for your success and ready to help you accomplish your goals.”