UMass Lowell’s River Hawk Scholars Academy has been honored as an exemplary national program for first-generation college students. Program participants last year included, from left, Jack Hamel of Peabody, Nadine Chamoun of Walpole, Danait Teclezghi of Cambridge, Heer Patel of Lowell and Monica Kong of Dracut. (Photo credit: Tory Wesnofske for UMass Lowell)

LOWELL — A program aimed at helping first generation college students at UMass Lowell — where roughly 41 percent of students are exactly that — was singled out as a national leader by anorganization that seeks to support such programs.

The university’s River Hawk Scholars Academy was named a “First-gen Forward Advisory Institution” by the Center for First-generation Student Success.

The designation identifies the program as one that other universities and programs across the country should look to as an example. Having earned the designation, UMass Lowell will now work to mentor, share best practices, and provide guidance to other schools to help them boost opportunities for first generation students.

The scholars academy served over 300 first-year students last year, and expects to serve about the same amount this year, according to a press release.

“UMass Lowell has a long history of welcoming and supporting first-generation college students, who help make the university such a vibrant place,” said Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Julie Nash. “Going into our fourth year, it’s clear the program is working: River Hawk Scholars Academy students are academically successful and are found at all levels of student leadership.”

This was the first year the Center for First-generation Student Success honored such programs.

“This national recognition is a testament to the best of what UMass Lowell can achieve. It’s a reflection of our first-generation students’ dreams and our university’s commitment to honoring those dreams,” said scholars academy Director Matthew Hurwitz, a faculty member in the English Department.

For more information on the academy, visit: