By Anahi Figueroa and Jesus Lino
Commerce City, CO and Los Angeles, CA
At the country’s most selective colleges, all first year students commence their college experience in the same way. Armed with over-packed suitcases, they stroll through a manicured lawn passing a medieval Harry Potter-style library to arrive at their empty dorm. After sliding their freshly minted I.D’s, they open the door to new faces with differing backgrounds. They all arrive to the room in the same fashion, yet the subtext of their past experiences shapes their new ones. Whether you’re the daughter of a farmer or the son of a Wall Street shark, your upbringing shapes how you navigate in a new environment. For first-generation and low-income students at Princeton University, their backgrounds can present unique obstacles for maneuvering their education, especially without support from family or the administration.
While administrators believe that Princeton University is doing a marvelous job in assisting first-generation students, some students say that a lot of work still needs to be done. Continue reading
By Trapetas McGill
To Princeton Sophomore David Lopera, Princeton University’s manicured campus seemed such a world away from his native East Boston that he almost didn’t apply. “I was obviously scared. Nervous. I had my doubts. I anticipated wealth,” he said. Little did this 19-year-old son of migrant Colombians know, he wasn’t alone. When he got to New Jersey last fall, he joined a growing number of Princeton students with exactly the same worries.
Now, Lopera is a member of Princeton’s Hidden Minority Council (PHMC), a group founded in 2013 to raise awareness about first-generation college students on campus and the challenges they face. While Princeton covers students’ full financial aid, says PHMC treasurer Melana Hammel, “it doesn’t bridge the gap.” Socioeconomic status can have huge effects on low-income students’ experiences on campus. “[The PHMC is about] building an understanding,” Hammel says. And the group, which won Princeton’s 2016 Martin Luther King award for community service, is only getting started. Continue reading
By Angela Loyola
Stony Point, NY
There’s a minority group at Princeton that isn’t constrained to one gender, race or religion. They walk around campus unseen. The university claims their well-being is a significant priority—but some students say the school isn’t doing enough.
Low-income and first-generation students don’t fit the traditional definition of a minority, but many of these students still feel stigmatized on campus.
“When you walk around campus…you can’t tell whose parents have money,” said Melana Hammel, rising sophomore. Hammel is the co-chair and treasurer of the Princeton Hidden Minority Council, which aims to give this invisible minority a voice. Continue reading