According to research from the Center for First-Generation Student Success, just over half of all college students nationally are first-generation students. But these students often face unique challenges and are less likely to complete their degree than their counterparts. For a select group of first-generation students, the Mission’s Davis Maine Scholarship helps take away the biggest barrier to post-secondary education. This year, four students—Brisa from Milbridge, Cadence from Calais, MacKenzie from East Machias, and Riley from Prospect Harbor—will attend one of the Mission’s three partner colleges Clark University, the University of New England (UNE), or Wheaton College, on a full, four-year scholarship.
Students apply for the scholarship in the spring of their junior year and receive their acceptance letters at the end of their junior year. The Scholars and their families begin to receive one-on-one mentoring, support, and guidance, from Davis Maine Scholarship Program Director Ace Barrera.
As high school seniors, this trip gives Scholars a chance to see the college experience for the first time. Each college hosted the students for a day. They toured the campuses, met with admissions counselors, visited classes, engaged with professors, and had many of their questions answered. They also had dinner with the presidents of each college, as well as the Davis Maine Scholars at each school.
Now entering its third year of operation, twelve Scholars attend college with at least two Scholars at each college partner. The high school Scholars heard from their peers who were in their shoes
, just a little bit ago. The three colleges each offer a unique experience and the first two groups of Scholars can also offer unique guidance about their college choices and how their transition to college went. Clark, which is home to three Scholars, is located in the large city of Worcester which boasts a population greater than that of Hancock and Washington Counties combined. Across the state from Clark, is Wheaton, where two Scholars attend college. Wheaton has a 400-acre campus, and with around 1,700 students, has the smallest student population of the three partner colleges. And then up the coast is UNE, home to seven Scholars. UNE is unique in that it has three campuses, two in Maine and in one satellite campus in Tangier, Morrocco, where students can study abroad.
Barrera explains that the “fall trip gives students a chance to open their minds to what choices and opportunities are available to them.” He added that each college went out of their way to make the students feel welcome and the Scholars really appreciated the opportunity to visit each school.
Now they have seen each college, each Scholar will sit down with Ace and their families to start to think about their future decisions. This winter each Scholar will apply to college, and in the spring, they will be able to visit their top choice before making their final decision.