What is PersistVu?
PersistVU acknowledges that holding the identity and experiences as a person from low-/lower-income backgrounds is multifaceted and unique. The PersistVU Identity Initiative works to create systems of support and community building that help combat the societal narratives associated with low-/lower-income communities while acknowledging the impact of the lived experiences of Vanderbilt’s scholars and faculty. Many of the students who have collaborated on the development of this identity initiative are members of QuestBridge, one of PersistVU’s Network Partners. The Initiative’s Network Partners uplift the various realities of people from low-/lower-income backgrounds. The Network Partners also aim to debunk classist and elitist narratives that create oppressive environments for members of our campus community to maneuver, such as, the institutional and societal barriers that too often define and limit the capacity for success, as well as negatively impact mental, emotional, physical, and financial wellness.
What are some common experiences of people from low-/lower-income communities?
There are a multitude of barriers and experiences related to coming from limited and low-income households and communities. Vanderbilt University, the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence, and QuestBridge recognizes that some scholars and faculty members who identify with low-income experiences can relate to:
- financial anxiety,
- pressure to be resilient and achieve socioeconomic mobility for themselves and their families,
- sharing earnings with loved ones,
- turning down personal and professional opportunities due to unaffordability,
- information and resource gaps,
- imposter syndrome,
- working part- or full-time throughout the educational journey, and more.
As individuals from low-income backgrounds may keep these considerations in mind, certain attributes develop to help navigate the challenging circumstances, such as resourcefulness, decision-making, critical thinking, problem-solving, commitment, and perseverance, to name a few.
Recognizing some of the lived experiences of people from low-income households comes with an understanding of the collective and communal-oriented nature of how people do what they can to take care of themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors. There is power and strength in the village it takes to survive and navigate the socioeconomic classes of the United States.
- Carnevale, A. P., & Smith, N. (2018). Balancing work and learning: Implications for low-income students. Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University. Retrieved from https://1gyhoq479ufd3yna29x7ubjn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Low-Income-Working-Learners-FR.pdf
- Coker, C., & Glynn, J. (2017). Making college affordable: Providing low-income students with the knowledge and resources needed to pay for college. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.jkcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2017-JKCF-Making-College-Affordable-Web.pdf
You may encounter a number of experiences that are common for students from low-income backgrounds. We have prepared a list of resources to guide you through these potential challenges.
Choosing a Major
- Career Center
- Other FGLI students
- Campus Connection
- Your Department Chair
- Arts & Sciences
- School of Engineering
- Peabody College
- Blair School of Music
You may need to click through departments in some links to find the Department Chair.
- Dore Money $marts offer a free online tool called GradReady that has short lessons on budgeting, debt management, banking, and other topics.
- HireADore helps locate open work-study and/or regular job positions on or near campus.
- Experience Vanderbilt provides up to $500 for student activities.
- Don’t underestimate the power of getting to know your financial advisor. The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarship offers individual appointments and workshops on budgeting, preparing financial aid applications, and loan repayment.
- Additional money for books, or other expenses if they exceed expected costs.
- Ask for a health insurance waiver if the cost would be financially straining.
- Vanderbilt Credit Union is a member-owned financial cooperative that works to maximize the economic benefit for Vanderbilt community members.
- Net Price Calculator
- Federal Work-Study
- National Center for Education Statistics: Vanderbilt University
- The Writing Studio If you can’t get an appointment, sign yourself up for the waitlist. You will likely be contacted to fill in a spot!
- Drop-in STEM tutoring at Featheringill Hall 132
- Penji App
- The career center often has recruiters from different fields visit.
- Graduate School Preparation
- Pre-law: contact email@example.com
- Pre-med : firstname.lastname@example.org or set up an appointment online! You can also directly contact Christopher King at email@example.com
- Shadowing opportunities: Alpha Epsilon Delta
- First-Generation specific tutoring groups that meet weekly for CHEM1601 and BXCI1510 Contact Miriam Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Others may be created based on interest, so please check each semester!
- Time Management and Preparation Peer Guides
- Center for Student Wellbeing (CSW) If you are new to the CSW and seeking academic, wellbeing, or Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) coaching, please email email@example.com.
Getting Involved in Student Organizations
- AnchorLink Organizations
- Experience Vanderbilt provides up to $500 for student activities
- QuestBridge is a national non-profit that connects scholars from low-income backgrounds with leading higher education institutions. Vanderbilt’s QuestBridge chapter
resources for Work/Life/School balance
- Wellbeing Workshops
- First-Gen Fellowships
- Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) Fellows
Remote work opportunities:
- Varsity Tutors
- Vanderbilt Career Center
- Immersion Vanderbilt
- Vanderbilt Undergrad Student Research Program (VUSRP)
- Career Center Resources
Learning Campus Culture
- Commodore Closet: Apply for money to buy new clothes for interviews or jobs
- Commodore Cruise: Enter raffles for free tickets to events around Nashville
- Student Care Network: Get support, and a listening ear, from professionals who can help
- UCC Drop-In Consultation Hours
- Telemedicine Counseling Service
- GriefNet: If struggling with the loss of a loved one
- Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life
- KC Potter: LGBTQIA+ center
- Sarratt sells $8 movie tickets
- The Rec has free meditation classes & healthy cooking demonstrations (Vandy Cooks)
- The Black Cultural Center offers social programming, a library, great food, and consistent sessions with allies who work at various offices across campus
- The Women’s Center provides free condom, tampons, pads, and body acceptance sessions
- Idealist – an interest-driven non-profit organization that houses job board