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Credit: Helen Fetaw

The Weingarten Center is teaming up with the Tutoring Center and the Greenfield Intercultural Center to provide study sessions for first-generation low-income students on campus.

The study sessions, which started on Oct. 12, take places on Thursday evenings. So far, there have been around 30 FGLI students gathering in the GIC to receive study tips and tutoring help for ECON 001, Introduction to Microeconomics, and PSYC 001, Introduction to Experimental Psychology.

The Weingarten Center runs around 250 programs a year, and has recently begun a “movement toward collaboration” with certain disciplines and departments. 

Executive director of the Weingarten Center Myrna Cohen said the idea for the new program began when a member of Weingarten’s Advisory board spoke with an incoming FGLI student and began the brainstorming process.

Cohen said departments under the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Life chose the introductory economics and psychology courses to turn a “big course into a small community.” She added that one of the intentions was to introduce study strategies that would help with the transition from high school to college, as most students who attend these introductory courses are typically freshman. 

"Three different offices; three directors getting together and creating something that actually advances what we’re already doing," Cohen said.

The program was promoted through the GIC, Penn First and Penn College Achievement Program, which is a Penn summer program geared towards FGLI students.

College freshman Carmen Duran, who initially found herself struggling in economics, found the sessions effective in helping her feel more confident in the course. Duran also highlighted how the GIC atmosphere complemented her experience.

“I’m half-Mexican and so meeting people who also come from different backgrounds is really nice," Duran said. "The GIC is really helpful. It provides a community of people that know what you’re going through.”

College freshmen Karen Herrera and College freshman Lin Chen, who are also a part of the economics review session, highlighted the benefits of a program built solely around FGLI students.

Herrera said because student tutors are in such high demand, she appreciated that Penn First reached out to promote the new program.

“It’s really nice to have this extra help and not have to fight such a big crowd [for tutors],” Chen said. 

Cohen said that though the program received funding through the Spring semester, the different centers hope to expand after this year to other courses beyond economics and psychology once they receive adequate feedback from students at the end of the semester.

Students within the sessions also highlighted their interest in the future of these sessions.

“I really wish the course selection was expanded on,” Herrera said. “Just so other people have the opportunity because it’s been quite amazing just learning from a group and a tutor who’s super knowledgeable.”

Though the program just began only a few weeks ago, FGLI students also are exposed to numerous programs from the GIC, such as a free textbook library and subsidized tickets to performing arts shows.

“I think that there’s definitely an effort here to make sure that we succeed academically and to make sure that we’re involved with what’s going on on campus and not let cost or race or color or whether we’re first-generation or not determine our success and participation,” Herrera said.