New Program Helps First Generation Students Find Career Paths

New Program Helps First Generation Students Find Career Paths

For first-generation student Jamilet Amoguea, the River Hawk Scholars Academy (RHSA) has helped her navigate her first two years at UMass Lowell.

Now that Amoguea is a junior, her focus has shifted from figuring college life to preparing for a future career.

“I know I wanted to go to UMass Lowell, and I know I want to do something in psychology, but I’m still a little lost about what I’m going to do in the future,” says the psychology major from Revere, Massachusetts. .


To help Amoguea and others like her find their way, the RHSA has launched a Pathways to Career pilot program. While the nationally recognized RHSA program is aimed at freshmen and sophomores, it is expanding to provide career and graduate school readiness programs for juniors and seniors, thanks to $500,000 in federal funding.

“I was glad it was offered. It is especially useful for first-generation students, as many things are new to us,” says Amoguea about the annual programme. “I feel that there is a lot of pressure on students to map everything in their first or second year. This will help me figure out where I’m going from here.”

Photo by Ed Brennen
Computer Science Major Arthur Rosa is one of 26 juniors participating in the RHSA’s new Pathways to Career program.

Managed by Assoc. Director of Career Services Serwa Addae-Adoo, the Pathways to Career program provides the first cohort of 26 juniors with a structured plan for the academic year. Students are required to participate in various activities and programs organized by the Career and Co-op Center, such as interviews and resume workshops, networking evenings, and the Dine & Dress event. Students are also required to attend the fall or spring career fair and conduct career-related interviews with three people from the UML community.

“Every year, the needs of every college cohort are different,” says Addae-Adoo. “By junior year they understand the ins and outs of college, and now they’re like, ‘Oh, I need to get an internship and do something with my career.’ That’s why we’re here – to support them in various ways.”

Addae-Adoo began developing the program last spring with RHSA Director Matthew Hurwitz and Carol Towle ’22, coordinator of college-based counseling at the Manning School of Business. Towle earned an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from UML last spring, with her thesis on ‘intrusive Advising’, which involves proactive intervention with students.

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Photo by Ed Brennen
Stella Cortese, junior major in business administration, talks to fellow members of her Pathways to Career cohort.

Arthur Rosa, a computer science major from Everett, Massachusetts, says he signed up for the program to keep himself on track to find a career that will help people.

Being part of a cohort of first-generation college students “helps me move forward thanks to the support of my peers,” he says. “Seeing how my peers from different backgrounds strive for their careers, even if it is difficult, inspires me to do the same.”

Yaritza Gil-Javier, a criminal justice major from Lawrence, Massachusetts, signed up as soon as she saw the email from RHSA.

“I’ve struggled with what I want to do with my career,” said Gil-Javier, who explored options in forensics and law enforcement before discovering an interest in homeland security through her courses.

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Photo by Ed Brennen
Junior Biology Major Naisha Sterling, left, talks to a fellow Pathways to Career cohort at their kick-off meeting.

“This program is definitely going to help me decide what I want to do with homeland security,” she says. “Hopefully I can network and make new connections.”

Addae-Adoo says many first-generation students encounter barriers to starting their careers, such as a lack of connections, which she hopes the program can do something about.

“We are very excited to have our first cohort,” she says. “We hope the numbers increase next year and we can support even more students.”


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