Special events held to help ease first-generation students into their college experience

President Herbert
President James Herbert welcomes first-gen students and their parents to UNE

UNE recently welcomed first-gen students, students whose parents did not attend a four-year college, with special events and activities.

First Gen Bridge to UNE was designed to help students ease into their college experience with a special early move-in day along with activities, including a range of academic, social, and personal development programming.

“Without the benefit of somebody in their family going to college ahead of them, they do not necessarily know all the ins and outs of academic culture and what to expect from their college experience,” explained Mary Fraser, director of the Student Academic Success Center. “We started to really look at the outcomes for our first-generation students in the last couple of years and we realized that we needed to give them a lot more attention.”

President James Herbert, a first-gen student himself, was on hand to answer questions and chat with students and their parents.

"It is very personal for me because college transformed my life,” Herbert told WGME. “I would not be anywhere near where I am today had I not gone to college. So, we are very intentional at UNE about creating a positive experience for first-generation students and helping them change their lives and be very successful.”

Faculty and staff who were also first-gen students served as mentors during a lunch meet and greet event.

“I think these events are extremely helpful,” commented Caitlyn Mayo (Medical Biology, ’26) “As someone who is a first-generation student, I am going into this head first. I do not really know what's happening, so this is a whole new world for me.”

Mayo is hoping to get into the doctor of osteopathic medicine program.

“I know it is going to be pretty rigorous, but I think I'm ready for it,” she said.

The University sent out invitations to the events to first-gen students this summer. About 50 students responded, including Olivia Demag (Nursing, ’26).

“I was really excited when they invited me to come because it gives me the chance to get more comfortable here,” Demag said. “It is nice to get here a day early and meet other students who are in the same situation.”

Many students expressed concerns about finding their way around campus, but they also realize that will become easier once they settle in.

Students had the opportunity to take part in several activities over the course of a weekend, including team problem solving, navigating a syllabus, and building an assignment tracker calendar.

Fraser says the weekend of events was just the beginning of a program to support first-gen students.

“We are expecting to have multiple engagements with this population over the course of the year, to check in with them and see how they are doing,” she stated.

First-gen move in

First-gen students were allowed to move in a day early

First-gen move in
President with parents and students
President interviewed

President Herbert being interviewed by WGME