By Deanna Howes Spiro, Vice President of Communications, AJCU



Welcome back to another year of Connections! This month’s issue is the first of a two-part series on the many ways that our Jesuit colleges and universities serve the needs of first-generation students. The second part will follow in January, coinciding with the second semester of the 2021-22 academic year.

For many first-generation students, cost remains an obstacle as they become the first in their families to earn and complete a college degree. To ensure that all students have the opportunity to attain their goal as a college graduate, AJCU is working with other members of the higher education community to advocate for a doubling of the Pell Grant maximum award to $13,000 through Congress’ current process of budget reconciliation. You will learn more about the #DoublePell movement in this issue’s Government Relations report.

The ongoing challenges brought on by the Covid pandemic weigh on the minds of all college students, especially those who are their families’ first-generation of college students. Yet these challenges present unexpected opportunities. The pandemic has inspired 2021 Saint Peter’s University graduate, Adrista Ramirez (featured in this issue), to plan for the future: “You will get to tell your future employers and family how you navigated and managed to work through a global pandemic. That speaks great volumes about your character.”

We hope that the stories of Adrista Ramirez and the many other students who are featured in this issue will inspire you to think about what’s possible beyond the pandemic, and how Jesuit colleges and universities can help lead the way.