Dear Family Members of a Cornell First-Generation Student,

Congratulations on having a loved one at Cornell. Your child excelled and was able to be admitted to a first-rate liberal arts college because of the great start you provided. Membership in Rise Up will help your loved one continue on the path toward a college education and a good career.

I want to share a little about myself so that you know why I am involved with the Rise Up program for first-generation Cornell students. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. My grandparents came here from England, and my father was born in the United States. He completed 5th grade before he went to work in the coal mines of Central Iowa. My mother completed high school. At the time I attended college my mother was the primary wage earner in our family due to my father’s poor health.

My parents taught me by example about the value of hard work and about treating others with honesty and respect. My mother was very supportive of my work toward a college degree (and she told me my father was proud of me as well, even though he couldn’t bring himself to tell me). Even though my mother was supportive she couldn’t tell me much about what college was like, or point me toward the extra opportunities I should seek out while getting my college degree.

I have been at Cornell for more than 30 years, and know it is a great place for first-generation college students. As a liberal arts college, Cornell emphasizes things that are important in today’s job market including excellent written and verbal communication skills and an ability to gather information and solve problems. Cornell students experience working in groups on a common issue or project both in and out of class, and these are educational experiences that employers value. The Rise Up program is designed to build on the strengths of a Cornell education and help first-generation students take advantage of all of the opportunities here.

Attaining a college degree was the first step for me toward being a Professor of Psychology at Cornell for the last 30+ years. I have had a very rewarding and stable career and good income because I was able to complete a 4-year degree. I and the others who are associated with Rise Up are dedicated to providing that opportunity for your loved one and other first-generation students at Cornell. We are very excited that your family member has chosen to join us.

Dr. Suzette Astley

Suzette Astley
Faculty Director, Rise Up Program

Suzette Astley
(319) 895-4450

P.s. After reading this, you may still have a few questions: 

Is college a good investment these days?  

Is it wise for my son or daughter to attend a relatively expensive liberal arts college when he or she could attend a state school with lower per-semester tuition?

How can we understand the experience that our family member is having at college and better support them?