Educating a diverse population in the liberal arts

For personal, professional and global responsibility

In the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame

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Notre Dame College first generation students are building relationships with faculty while exploring career aspirations in a new student success series.

The College’s First Generation, or FirstGen, Center is introducing a program called “Micro and Major,” which allows students who are the first in their family to attend college to meet faculty on a personal level and learn more about the breadth of career and degree options offered at Notre Dame. The small group get-togethers take place in Notre Dame’s new FirstGen Center space, located on the second floor of the Clara Fritzsche Library building on the College campus.

FirstGen Micro and Major

In the innovative Micro and Major series, a small group of student members of the center and a faculty member will meet in person each week at the center, with other first generation students joining via Zoom. The goal is for each of the students to be present on campus at least once to directly connect with a faculty member in the career area of their choice. COVID-19 protocols will be in place for each gathering.

Other members of the campus community also are invited to join the center sessions via video conference to offer mentoring support to the first generation students while maintaining a social distance.

During the lunchtime sessions, the faculty members will share with the students their wisdom, advice on pursuing a major and stories of overcoming challenges.

Each meeting is from noon to 1 p.m. The schedule of faculty speakers, many who are first generation students themselves, includes:

  • Friday, October 30: Donna Morlani, associate professor of mathematics and Faculty Athletic Representative
  • Friday, November 6: Joyce Banjac, interim director of the MBA program
  • Friday, November 13: Sue Corbin, division chair and associate professor; Crystal Johnson, director of community relations and recruiting; and Elizabeth Ritz, assistant professor, all from the Division of Professional Education
  • Friday, November 20: Greg Knapik, assistant professor of nursing

Notre Dame offers about 30 degree programs across its five academic divisions: arts and humanities, business, education, nursing and science and mathematics. About 40 percent of the students at the College are the first in their families to pursue bachelor’s degrees.

FirstGen Student Success

The FirstGen Center  at Notre Dame is a community of first-generation students, faculty, alumni and local professionals who empower members to successfully navigate their college experience and persist to graduation. Students who are the first in their families to attend college generally graduate at half the rate of students whose parents have earned bachelor’s or advanced degrees.

The program offers resiliency coaching, supportive services and leadership opportunities. Programs available through the FirstGen Center range from small group support on study skills, time management, goal setting and budgeting; workshops on navigating stressors on and off campus; personal growth and professional development; leadership training; and mentoring and community service opportunities

FirstGen New Center

The newly dedicated center space on campus for students whose parents have not earned a four-year college degree features personal meeting rooms, a computer lab area, a space for fellowship, a lending library and Career Closet. The Career Closet offers students access to free gently used attire appropriate for job interviews, internships and other formal college and career occasions.

Notre Dame first generation students also have access to professional networking, internship opportunities and social events.

FirstGen Center members also can become part of a mentorship program which allows them to be paired with first-year students.

October 2020




About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or