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The College of St. Scholastica

On Friday, Nov. 17, The College of St. Scholastica inducted 69 first-generation college students who have demonstrated exemplary academic success into its chapter of the Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri Alpha) First-Generation Student Honor Society. A first-generation student is defined as neither parent having completed a bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate and graduate first-generation students were inducted at the ceremony in Mitchell Auditorium on the main campus.

Kaitlyn Haapala ’21, a graduate student in the Master of Science Occupational Therapy program who was inducted on Friday, shared: “The key to my success as a first-generation college student has been possessing a mindset of determination throughout my undergraduate and graduate education. This is an important quality that I learned from my parents, who have progressed in their careers without obtaining a bachelor’s degree to be successful individuals. I have learned that there will be situations that are challenging related to advancing my education, but through positive self-talk, organizational skills and perseverance, I am able to overcome all challenging obstacles.”

First-Generation Alumni Award

At the induction ceremony, St. Scholastica also recognized Gabriella (Herrera) Caldecott ’13 with the 2023 First-Generation Alumni Award. Caldecott majored in Marketing and Management and minored in Spanish. She has worked for Wells Fargo for over 10 years and is currently a Family Office Senior Trust Associate. Caldecott served on the Alumni Board of Directors for six years and is currently serving in her third year as a Trustee for the College.

Gabriella (Herrera) Caldecott ’13 with the 2023 First-Generation Alumni Award at the Tri Alpha induction ceremony.“When my dad was 18, he wanted to go to college but instead immigrated here from Mexico to make a better life for himself and, ultimately, me,” Caldecott shared. “He believed in me, which made me believe in me. I always knew I could do it.”

Over 30% of all enrolled undergraduate and graduate program-seeking students at St. Scholastica identify as first-generation — this fall, that group includes 974 first-generation students. Additionally, over 55 faculty and staff identify as first-generation college graduates themselves. The College of St. Scholastica — founded as a women’s college in 1912 when higher education was predominantly male — has a long and proud history of opening the doors of educational access and social mobility. Since the mid-1990s, the College has hosted five federally-funded TRIO programs, including pre-college and college-level programs, building a pathway of first-generation student support from middle school to graduate school. In 2019, the College became the first Minnesota private college recognized as a First-Gen Forward institution by the NASPA First-Generation Center for Student Success.

National First-Generation College Celebration

The College also participates in the National First-Generation College Celebration. New to the festivities this year was the First Lecture Series, developed to celebrate and appreciate first-gen students at St. Scholastica, with a first-gen faculty speaker delivering a lecture they wished they had received in their first semester of college. Dr. Jenean O’Brien, associate professor of Biology, shared remarks as the inaugural speaker.

“The College of St. Scholastica is proud of our first-generation students who are trailblazers and bring tremendous strengths and talents to the St. Scholastica community. As a first-generation college student myself, the accomplishments of these students have special meaning and significance to me, and I cannot wait to see how these students continue to succeed in their personal, career and educational pursuits,” said Dory Kempf ‘99, associate vice president of Student Affairs.

Ryan Sandefer presenting Gabriella (Herrera) Caldecott ’13 with the 2023 First-Generation Alumni Award at the Tri Alpha induction ceremony.