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/Brenda Grier-Miller Scholars program might be just what you need.

Brenda Grier Miller Scholars and Staff
The 2018–19 Brenda Grier-Miller Scholars, peer mentors, and staff.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Oberlin College


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, high-need during the transition to college by helping them build a community and connect with returning Oberlin students, faculty, and staff before classes begin.

Student learn about Oberlin’s academic expectations and campus culture as well as how to use the 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 connected to 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 email to Brook Escobedo at

The Brenda Grier-Miller Scholars program began in August 2018 with our first cohort of students. Eight students completed the Oberlin F1RST pre-orientation, participated in F1RST Friday Workshops during both semesters, and ended the year with a lunch celebration and gifts.

“Being a BGM Scholar has made my time here less stressful than it could have been. Workshops were really useful.” —2018 BGM Scholar

Brenda Grier-Miller
Photo credit: Courtesy of Oberlin College

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 in August, as well as enroll in LEAD 110, a 2-credit cocurricular class. LEAD 110 will cover topics of interest for first-year students during the fall semester. Meals and housing are provided during Oberlin F1RST.

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, Student Academic Success Programs, Multicultural Resource Center, and others), as well as have social events and activities to better adjust to college life.

During pre-orientation, BGM Scholars will also meet Oberlin faculty and staff who are the first in their families to attend college or were high financial need.

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 such workshops as our First Friday series; be able to participate in trips; and attend other outings and gatherings.

The best part of being a Brenda Grier-Miller Scholar is...

  • having a bunch of people from day one supporting you as you begin college,
  • the genuine enthusiasm and care from the staff,
  • the unconditional support and the knowledge about resources,
  • meeting other kids who are like me.