Are you the first in your family to attend college? Are you anxious about what to expect? Could you use some guidance along the way? If you said yes, the Oberlin F1RST and the Brenda Grier-Miller Scholars program might be just what you need.
The Brenda Grier Miller Scholars (BGM) and Oberlin F1RST program were created to provide first-generation, high financial need students an opportunity to build community, gain access to resources, and navigate the college environment.
The program supports students who are first-generation and high financial need during the transition to college by helping them connect with returning Oberlin students, faculty, and staff before classes begin.
Students learn about Oberlin’s academic expectations and campus culture as well as how to use a wide range of campus resources. Students also learn how to communicate effectively with professors, become leaders on campus, and better understand various aspects of college life. Engaging with other first-generation students, faculty and staff, and participating in activities allows new students to explore their academic and personal strengths. The program also gives parents information to support their students through the first year.
First-year students who meet the initial qualifications and who are not part of another cohort-based program—STRONG, Bonner, Posse Scholars—will be invited to apply. Up to 15 first-year students will be selected.
For more information, send an email to Nicole Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Brenda Grier-Miller Scholars program began in August 2018. Two cohorts have completed the program which includes the Oberlin F1RST pre-orientation, F1RST Friday Workshops, a LEAD course, and success advising.
"Being a BGM Scholar helps me feel like I really belong at Oberlin. Not only does the program provide amazing resources to help me adjust to and thrive at Oberlin as a first-generation, high need student, but the people involved are like family. Some of my first and best friends at Oberlin I met through BGM, and I wouldn't have it any other way!" -Jess ‘23
Brenda Grier-Miller served Oberlin students for 24 years. A social worker by training, Brenda came to Oberlin in 1993, as a special advisor for Trio, a federal grant-funded program that supports first-generation, high financial need, and disabled students. She was later promoted to associate dean of Student Academic Services, as well as director of Student Support Services and served in that role until her retirement in 2016. She had a passion for working with students who were marginalized and underrepresented in higher education.
As a vital part of the Oberlin community, Brenda worked tirelessly to provide support for all Oberlin students. While helping to find unique and challenging ways to get the best out of themselves, Brenda emphasized the importance of social development and challenged students to take full advantage of their college experience.
“If students only came to further their intellectual ability, then when they left here in four years they’d be very stunted. You all are going to go places and do things; you are going to make differences,” she said. “I find it important to help you in that process.”
Why join us?
As part of the program, BGM scholars will receive support, access to resources, become familiar with the campus and city of Oberlin, and have a chance to build a community before classes start and throughout the year.
“I loved everything about this program. It really helped me connect with other students like me and get to know more resources on campus. Having a peer mentor was very helpful so I could have input from a student like me who has been through all this.” —2018 BGM Scholar
BGM scholars are expected to attend the Oberlin F1RST two-day, pre-orientation program. Meals and housing are provided during Oberlin F1RST. Scholars also enroll in LEAD 110, a 2-credit cocurricular class in the fall. LEAD 110 will cover topics of interest for first-year students during the fall semester. In addition, Scholars participate in programming and workshops throughout the first year.
BGM Scholars will move into their residence halls early and meet their peer mentor; a returning Oberlin student who will help guide them through the first year of college. They will attend a two-day, pre-orientation program and meet with various groups on campus (Financial Aid, Center for Student Success, Multicultural Resource Center, and others) as well as social events and activities to help them adjust to college life.
During pre-orientation, BGM Scholars will also meet Oberlin faculty and staff who were the first in their families to attend college or were high financial need.
"Being a BGM Scholar let me know all the resources available to me at Oberlin...and made the transition from high school to college much easier as a first-generation low-income student to know who I could turn to for help. I met some of my best friends at Oberlin through the BGM program; I'm so happy I had the opportunity." -Ryan ‘23
During the year, scholars will work with their peer mentor and meet regularly for success advising with a staff member from Student Academic Success Programs.
Scholars will enroll in LEAD 110 in the fall. Throughout the first year, they will receive ongoing support through workshops including our F1RST Friday series, participate in trips, and attend other outings and gatherings.
“The part I was most nervous about was getting adjusted; I didn’t know much about the college transition process as an FLI student and was nervous about fitting in. But the BGM program put me at ease and made me enthusiastic towards starting school at Oberlin; the scholars and staff became like family to me and I could always count on them when I needed help with anything, and I think that’s one of the best parts about college; having a family that will help you through tough times and cheer for you during your best. -Jonathan ‘23
The best part of being a Brenda Grier-Miller Scholar is:
- Having access to and support from the community even before you begin college
- The genuine enthusiasm and care from the staff
- The unconditional support and multiple resources
- Meeting other students who have similar experiences