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River Hawk Scholars Academy

The River Hawk Scholars Academy (RHSA) promotes student success and fosters engagement in the campus and local community for full-time, first-year UMass Lowell students who identify as first-generation college students or who went through either the Gear Up or TRiO-based programs at Lowell High School or Lawrence High School. We provide holistic support, academic resources, and meaningful activities to RHSA students as they transition from high school to a diverse college campus and as they learn what it means to be a college student. RHSA students will experience intellectual and personal growth as they become empowered to advocate for themselves and better prepared to take advantage of the many opportunities our university has to offer. This program is run through the Office of the Provost.

RHSA Eligibility Requirements

  • Student is a first time, full-time freshman.
  • Student’s major is housed within the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; The Manning School of Business; the Kennedy College of Sciences; or the College of Education.
  • Student is a first-generation college student, a participant in the Gear Up or TRiO programs at Lowell or Lawrence High School, or someone who may have overcome some unique challenges on their path toward college.
  • Student demonstrates a willingness to be a positive, contributing member of the campus community.

RHSA Objectives

RHSA students will:

  • Tap into their own capabilities to make the most of their time at UMass Lowell and position themselves as potential future leaders on campus and beyond.
  • Discover a supportive community of diverse, exceptional people within the RHSA.
  • Understand and know how to access some of the key student services offered at UMass Lowell (such as the Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services, the Wellness Center and the Solution Center).
  • Learn how to handle personal struggles, academic challenges and unexpected setbacks in healthy, productive ways.
  • Choose their courses based on thoughtful reflection about their own interests and goals and on accurate information about their degree program and the core curriculum.
  • Develop a sense of civic duty by giving back to the communities they belong to, including the RHSA, the university and the city of Lowell.

Additional RHSA Benefits

  • An assigned professional academic advisor who will work closely with students to help them navigate the university’s many resources, provide academic support through workshops and individual meetings, and assist with understanding major and core requirements while addressing any concerns surrounding this transition in their first year at UMass Lowell.
  • Access to the faculty director of the RHSA, whose goal is to see all students in the Academy have a successful, healthy first year at UMass Lowell and discover their potential along the way.
  • The opportunity to join a Living-Learning Community focused on the objectives of the RHSA and so live with fellow Academy students in pursuit of their best selves.
  • A summer program aimed at learning how to make the transition to college and meeting fellow RHSA students.
  • Early move-in upon completion of the summer program.
  • Early registration for the spring semester of their first year and the fall semester of their second year.
  • The possibility to take courses with other RHSA students.
  • Scholarship opportunities offered only to students in the RHSA.
  • Free workshops, sessions, and social events offered throughout the year to help students succeed academically and also connect to their fellow RHSA peers.
  • Peer mentoring from alumni of the RHSA program.
  • The chance to become an RHSA mentor after your freshmen year and streamlined access to other campus leadership training and positions.

Contact Information

For general questions about the program, please email:

Matthew Hurwitz, Faculty Director
Phone: 978-934-4059

Racheal Shertzer, Academic Advisor
Phone: 978-934-6621

Gerrit Boldt, Strategic Planning Coordinator

River Hawk Scholars Academy Professional Advisors