Shaping first-generation students into tomorrow's leaders

November 6, 2020 By Jacob deNobel

Students selected for their interest in the liberal arts and dedication to civic engagement

Thanks to the generosity of Fred and Judy Wilpon, Johns Hopkins University was able to launch the Kessler Scholars Program this fall. The program provides institutional support for first-generation students, connecting them with mentors, faculty members, and university staff who will help them become civic-minded leaders of the future. Students are selected for their interest in the humanities, dedication to civic engagement, and academic achievement.

The Kessler Scholars program is designed to offer first-generation students a support system in an environment that can sometimes feel unfamiliar and insular, says Stephon Hamell, who joined Hopkins as the director of scholars and fellows in the Center for Student Success in August. He runs the Hopkins arm of the Kessler Scholars program.

“Community is vital for [first-generation] students. There’s a chance that they can feel isolated, and we want to provide a space and advising for them to thrive in college,” Hamell says. “These students are so great because they’re unafraid to go into a world that’s undefined. Ambiguity is where they live, and where they can make their talents and strengths grow.”

The program hosts monthly events for the cohort, including seminars on civic engagement; workshops on finding undergraduate research opportunities, internships, and study abroad options; and regular one-on-one meetings between Hamell and the students.

Learn more about the Kessler Scholars Program and meet members of this year’s cohort at The Hub. 

Topics: Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Support Scholars