far as Lonnie Armstrong's parents
were concerned. One of MCC's
understands all too well the challenges
many first-generation college students face.
explained. "If I took a class, my parents couldn't
understand why I wasn't working." Seeing few
opportunities in his hometown of Fresno, Calif.,
Armstrong enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Hampshire (at Rivier University) and got flack for
that," he recalled. His folks expected him to be a
career Navy man and retire with a pension. "My
parents still don't understand."
in education from Rivier. And, working alongside
Melissa Welch, MCC's second Achievement
Coach, he is eager to provide students with the
kinds of support he didn't receive.
on closing the "achievement gap" a documented
students who are considered "at risk" (minority,
low-income and first-generation), and
students who have traditionally had
access to higher education.
stemmed from a Massachusetts Performance
Incentive Grant project, titled Pathways to
Achievement, Completion, Career and Transfer
(PCCT). Based on the Complete College America
Guided Pathways to Success model, the overall
goal is to encourage students to stay in college
divisions Business, Education & Public Service,
and Humanities & Social Science to increase
student success and retention, explained Welch.
She and Armstrong coordinate closely with
faculty, advising centers and student-support
services to provide a holistic advising approach.
previously as Director of Leadership and Student
Activities. This new position really appealed to
students in particular the opportunity to work
within under-represented populations and with
first-generation college students," she said.
generation college student, but she had a very
different experience. Her parents immigrated to
the United States from the Azores, Portugal. Her
father left Portugal at 17, with an elementary
school education. Her mother came to the U.S. at
the age of 9 and graduated from high school here.
so college was not an option because she was a
woman," explained Welch. "It was very important
to her that her daughters go to college."
director gave her mother insight into the
college-application process. "My mom was
definitely the trailblazer for us," said Welch, who
attended Providence College on a full Martin
Luther King Scholarship.
tend college). The language around our house was
always about going to college," she said.
cohort of students referred to them by faculty
and staff. Armstrong focuses on students in the
Humanities & Social Sciences division, and Welch
concentrates on Business, Education & Public
conversations, getting to the root of the issue
holding the student back, whether it lies in their
home life, finances, health or a combination of
resources, such as free tutoring, peer-lead study
groups, and support services for low-income,
first-generation and disabled students.
include hiring three peer mentors, successful