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First generation students at MCPHS

First Flight Program for First Gen Students Kicks Off on Boston Campus

  • On Wednesday, October 6, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) kicked off the First Flight program on the Boston campus

    The First Flight program is designed to serve first-generation college students at MCPHS, and is made possible through a partnership of the a number of student services departments at the University, including Center for Academic Success and Enrichment (CASE) and the Office of Student Affairs.

    “We are so excited to launch the First Flight initiative to support our MCPHS First Generation Cardinal community,” said Brittany Vytal, Program Coordinator in the Office of Student Affairs. “First Flight was created to provide resources and build connections for students who identify as first-generation.”

    First-generation is defined as a student whose parent(s) or guardian(s) have not earned a four-year degree from a college or university in the United States.

    During the kick-off event, students gathered in the Student Lounge to enjoy refreshments and hear from a panel of first-generation student leaders on their “flight plan to success”.

    The panel featured third year nursing student Ana Coutinho, second year PharmD student Alicia Tran, second year premedical and health studies student Ashley Ngyuen, and fourth year PharmD student Joseph Caputo, and was moderated by Brittany Rocheleau, M. Ed., who is a Student Success Coach at CASE.

    Each student shared their unique experience as a first-generation student, and shared insight into how to find success both inside and outside the classroom.

    Ana Coutinho shared how having a dual-language household impacted her admission process.

    “I am from Cape Cod, MA but I was born in Brazil and my family immigrated to the U.S when I was only two,” said Ana. “Because English wasn’t the first language in my household, it was difficult for me to learn everything on my own, especially when it came to applying for college.”

    In addition to serving as a peer mentor, class ambassador for her cohort and chair of the School of Nursing Involvement Council, Ana serves as an ambassador in the Admission Office at MCPHS, helping prospective students from all backgrounds navigate the college exploration process.

    During the panel, second year PharmD student Alicia Tran shared how her involvement on campus has helped her adjust to college life and a new city. Originally from Dublin, California, Alicia became an RA, and traveled to Haiti this past summer for a medical mission trip. She takes time to attend events, activities, and clubs on campus, where she makes friends and adds to her growing leadership skills.

    Second year Premedical & Health Studies student Ashley Ngyuen shared own her experience with adjusting to the east coast – and life away from her close-knit family. Originally from California, Ashley shared how small-seeming tasks at first seemed daunting – like using Boston’s transportation system, the T. She also explained the ways she helped her parents understand the complex world of health sciences education, including teaching them acronyms.

    Joseph Caputo, a fourth year PharmD student, shared how his family immigrated to the United States from Italy, making him a first-generation American and a first-generation college student. Similar to Ashley’s experience, Joseph helps guide his parents through the in’s and out’s of the college experience – sharing insight into the unique requirements of a health sciences university, like having to dress up for clinical rotations and class.

    At the end of the event, fun giveaways including First Flight t-shirts and Red the Cardinal stuffed animals were raffled off to audience members.

    The First Flight program has more programming, services, and activities planned for the academic school year. Looking for more information about the program? Contact Dean Dawn Eades at