“Bridging The Gap” Project Helps First-Generation Student Feel At Home at Hartwick

Imposter Syndrome.


These are all emotions many first-generation students find themselves feeling, sometimes at the same time. And as a first-generation student, Jadon Demeritte ’25, has felt all of them.

Hartwick College student Jadon Demeritte '25

“I came here from the Bahamas. I’m so far from home, and navigating a new environment academically and socially. My parents didn’t go to college, so they never went through any of that. It’s hard for them to understand how I feel.”

Jadon Demeritte '25

Medical Technology & Public Health Double Major

But working with Heidi Tanner in her Building Sexual Wellness FlightPath course last year inspired her not just to become a Peer Health educator, but to reach out and help other first-generation students.

Tanner encouraged her to apply for a fellowship from Active Minds, a national not-for-profit that focuses on young adult mental health.

“It has been an honor to watch Jadon evolve into an engaged and committed Peer Health Educator,” said Tanner. “I am proud of her work and excited to be a part of it.”

The fellowship will fund her on-campus project, which starts with a survey titled “Bridging the Gap.”

In the survey, she asks questions such as “What are some emotions you feel as a first-generation student?” and “Since attending college as a first-generation student, have you been diagnosed with any mental health disorder(s)?” in order to try and better understand the specific stresses first-generation students face and how Hartwick can support them.

“I’m already starting to see survey answers about students feeling financial strain,” she said. “So one of the things Heidi and I are thinking about is putting together a work-study position to research scholarship opportunities for first-generation students.”

She’ll put together focus groups to go deeper into their survey answers, then compile her findings into a presentation for faculty and President Darren Reisberg and a seminar for first-generation students.

“I don’t think students know all the resources we have for them on campus,” she said. “I want to direct them to those resources and create new ones.”

March 22, 2023
President's Report 2023, Spotlight, Student Spotlight

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