New center for low-income students holds open house to introduce services


Luke Vogelzang/The Daily Northwestern

Kourtney Cockrell, director of the Center for Student Enrichment Services, speaks during the center’s open house Wednesday. The new office was created in the fall to serve low-income and first-generation students.

Julie Fishbach, Reporter

The Center for Student Enrichment Services held an open house Wednesday evening to introduce the office and its services.

“It really is a chance to come together as a Northwestern community that is committed to supporting low-income and first-generation students,” Kourtney Cockrell, director of SES, told The Daily.

The event, held in Scott Hall, provided an opportunity for students and faculty to learn about the newly opened SES, to meet the director and to share their ideas for programming. The center, housed within the Department of Campus Inclusion and Community, was created Fall Quarter with the goal of helping low-income and first-generation students access resources on campus and supporting them with issues including financial aid and leadership training.

“It’s incredibly important that this event is happening because news about resources for low-income and first-generation students doesn’t necessarily travel as fast as other news,” Communication junior Amanda Walsh, president of NU’s chapter of the Quest Scholars Network, said. “It’s important that people know what the office is about, where it’s located, what we’re doing with it and get to know Kourtney and network with other students.”

The office was created in response to the needs of NU students and the large demographic of low-income and first-generation students, Cockrell said. The number of students with this background is currently at 14 percent of the student population and is expected to continue increasing, according to Cockrell. Many members of Quest Scholars came together over the past couple years to work with the administration and ask for support from the University to ensure that they have a positive experience on campus and are prepared to succeed here and in the future, she said.

 “It was a long road,” said Kellogg student Daniel Flores, founder and former president of NU’s chapter of the Quest Scholars. “Much of the conversation focused on identity in terms of racial and ethnic issues. Educational history and socioeconomic history were left out of the picture.”

According to Flores (Communication ’14) many students struggle to feel safe on campus and there needed to be one centralized office to deal with this population. The issue of socioeconomic background had often been a taboo subject, but many people were passionate and excited to share their stories, Flores said.

Dozens of students attended the event, some of whom are receiving financial support through scholarships such as the Quest Scholars and the NU Ryan Scholars program.

Walsh commended the center’s efforts to gain the attention of students.

“The fact that the center is being so public about its services makes it easier for students who are uncomfortable with their status to receive these resources,” she said.

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