Guest post by Javier Bustamante, Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement at The Catholic University of America
Take Flight supports first-generation college students in their transition to The Catholic University of America. This program enhances these students’ collegiate experience by preparing them for the expectations of the classroom, creating a community of understanding and growth, fostering friendships, and strengthening career development skills.
Take Flight emphasizes the importance of community support. Being the first to attend Take Flight emphasizes the importance of community support. Being the first to attend college in one’s family can pose a number of challenges accompanied by big dreams of how to overcome adversity. The Take Flight program appreciates this unique experience of first-generation college students, and has built its program around community support to best honor the needs of its students. Community support to us looks like peer mentorship programs, workshops with faculty and staff to share tools for both academic and career success, as well as social events with peers, shared scholarship opportunities, and one on one meetings with the Assistant Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement.
As intended, Take Flight has grown since its inception. The program has flourished because of the dedication and commitment of staff and students who seek to give first generation students a home in our office and resources to achieve their goals. From freshman academic workshops and pancake socials to senior series about the variety of pathways one can take after university, students are learning together and creating their own avenues of advancement.
The progress of Take Flight allows for the program to expand! What was once a one-day Pre-Orientation for first-gen college students is now a three-day orientation where students will have the opportunity to stay on campus for the duration of the program. This program will focus on academic preparedness, campus resources, combatting self-doubt, and building a support system before the academic year begins. This orientation works with many campus partners as a way to demonstrate our striving to welcome and serve first-gen students and showcase how much we want to support them as they adjust to this new chapter of life. Preceding this orientation will be a series of summer workshops and one-on-one meetings with our staff to get to know the students in the program, welcome them to our Take Flight community, go over financial aid packages, etc. We are elated to expand the program in this way and look forward to meeting all future Take Flighters!
To participate in the Take Flight, students who are first-generation college students simply need to reach out to our office and opt into the program. Each year we welcome 30 freshmen into the program, and they join the close to 90 students already in the program. For more information visit our website or contact Natali Maher or Javier Bustamante.
Take Flight at The Catholic University of America is a community partner of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s College Success program. Crimsonbridge partners with Take Flight to support the development of campus programming to serve first-generation students and help build infrastructure for student success.