River Hawk Scholars Academy (RHSA) is a faculty-led academic success program for first-generation college students at UMass Lowell. RHSA’s innovative, award-winning approach roots the experience of our students in:
- forming deep and lasting connections with their professors, their peers, and support staff,
- creating a wide variety of research, career-connected, and leadership opportunities driven by curricular and co-curricular offerings,
- celebrating their successes through a strength-based approach that recognizes the courage and intellectual merit of our University’s thousands of students who will be the first in their family to complete a four year-college degree in the United States.
The success of our students is determined by the success of our faculty, and so:
- RHSA is led by a member of the faculty and a team of committed, expert staff.
- The core first-year experience is all about connecting with faculty and peers to understand how to make the most of their time in their major, department and college.
- 100 faculty from across all five colleges now either teach RHSA courses or serve with our program.
The sophomore year and above in RHSA are all about opportunity: to take RHSA courses, enter mentoring relationships focused on academic and career success, develop as leaders, and apply for career-connected, research, and learning opportunities on campus and in the community. Many of these opportunities feature the chance to earn scholarship money or get paid. Students in RHSA also have access to additional benefits like dedicated success coaching, priority enrollment, early campus move-in, and emergency funds.
RHSA is anchored in students’ first-generation identity but not driven by it – we allow each student to discover what being first-generation means to them while focusing on their learning inside and outside the classroom. As an overlay program that complements students’ academic programs and serves students of all majors, we partner closely with each academic department and dean’s office as well as the Honors College, the Provost’s Office, Academic Services, and Student Affairs to ground students’ experiences through RHSA in what is their purpose here at UMass Lowell: to excel in their studies, earn their degrees, and move with confidence into graduate school and their career.