First Generation and Multicultural (FaM) Business Program welcomes inaugural cohort, with support from industry partners and donors

In recent years, the CU Denver School of Business has welcomed a growing population of students who are the first in their families to pursue a college degree, as well as students of color. Recognizing the unique strengths these communities possess—and the unique challenges they face—Dean Scott Dawson and other leaders in the School of Business made a commitment in 2020 to reimagine the first-generation, multicultural student experience.

By 2021, they had recruited a circle of partners and supporters from across the Denver business community to help realize their vision. In August 2021, the First Generation and Multicultural Business (FaM) Program was born and Nimol Hen, a leader in academic advising with over 20 years of experience at CU Denver, was named its first director.

Leadership rooted in personal experience

Dawson said the FaM program is an essential addition to the Business School’s student services that will foster community and provide tailored resources for students who may not have always seen themselves reflected in business settings.

“The diversity of our student body is one of the School of Business’ most important assets. And education is one of our most powerful tools to ensure that all students – including those who have historically been underrepresented in many areas of business – have access to the opportunities that enable them to thrive in their careers,” Dawson said. “I am very grateful to Nimol Hen for leading the FaM program, as well as to the donors and partners who are making this important initiative possible.”

Nimol Hen

Hen is a proud first-generation student herself, who came to the US as a child refugee. “Like many first-generation and students of color, I would not be where I am today without the champions I met throughout my academic journey who helped me access the resources I needed to thrive as a student and graduate. my degree,” she. said. “I am incredibly humbled to have this opportunity to serve and advocate for our students through the FaM program.”

From listening, to building, to impact

During the 2021–2022 academic year, Hen piloted elements of the program and met regularly with focus groups comprised of current first-generation and multicultural students who contributed their ideas and feedback. After this pilot year of learning and building, the FaM program is welcoming its first official cohort of over 70 students this fall. The FaM student trip will include:

  • Internships, experiential learning, and events built around the program’s core themes of leadership, service, and careers
  • Financial support through scholarships and paid internships
  • Mentoring opportunities with peers, alumni and business professionals
  • Increase access to academic/career readiness services that prepare students to launch their careers

Partners provide funding, mentoring and opportunities

A “Founder’s Circle” of industry partners and donors from the local business community provides ongoing mentoring and philanthropic support for the program. The Founders’ Circle includes representatives from leading businesses such as FirstBank and Schwab—longtime partners of the Business School who provided major gifts to establish FaM—plus members of the school’s Board of Advisors, as well as engaged alumni who see their own experiences reflected in FaM.

FaM’s corporate partners provide the program with mentors and advisors, internship and experiential learning opportunities, and critical financial support to expand scholarships and student programming. FaM, on the other hand, offers businesses a talent pipeline of diverse professionals ready to become leaders and change makers in their fields.

“A program that shows its values ​​through its actions”

Spring 2022 Oscar Fraire Commencement Graduation
Oscar Fraire

Oscar Fraire ’22, who helped shape the FaM program during its pilot year before graduating in May, said of his experience: “In addition to providing me with resources and experiences key to my success as a first-generation student, FaM provided me with an amazing community of other first-generation students facing similar challenges. It’s an honor to be a part of a program that shows its values ​​through its actions.”

Hen, her students, and their supporters are excited to see the official launch of FaM this fall, and they’re even more excited for the growth and impact to come. Hen intends to continue building support and resources for the program and hopes to grow to serve 100 students a year in the short term and even larger groups as CU Denver and its School of Business grow.

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