Faculty member selected for Faculty Innovation Fellows Program

Alejandra Rengifo’s project aims to foster an environment of success for first-generation students

| Author: Sarah Buckley | Media Contact: Sarah Buckley

Department of History, World Languages, and Cultures faculty member Alejandra Rengifo is one of 20 educators selected for the University Innovation Fellows Program at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.

The program empowers students and faculty leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and design thinking. Projects can include funding new programs, majors, classes, and activities that connect campus and the community. Candidates who complete the program will be launched as Faculty Innovation Fellows in March of 2025.

Rengifo’s project, “Fostering an Environment of Success for First-Generation Students,” will help create a network of second, third, and fourth-year first-generation students at Central Michigan University to support incoming students. This network is also open to any students, faculty, or staff members who want to support this cause.

CMU classifies first-generation college students as a student having parents who never enrolled in post-secondary education.

World Languages faculty member Alejandra Rengifo wearing a blue jacket and glasses reviews materials with students seated at tables.
Alejandra Rengifo reviews work with students from her Spanish class at Central Michigan University.

Rengifo says she is committed to helping first-generation students achieve success at CMU.

“Graduation rates for first-generation college students typically lag behind those who have parents who graduated from college,” said Rengifo. “Research indicates that issues negatively impacting first-generation college students include less academic preparation, internalization of negative stereotypes, less awareness of information about colleges and funding opportunities, ongoing financial concerns, culture shock, low self-esteem, and underdeveloped study and time management skills.”

The network will provide support in academics, social, and mental health through peer mentoring and connecting with professionals when needed. They will also support fundraising for trips to conferences, art museums, or other events and outreach to high schools in Michigan to help future first-generation students apply for college.

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