Fund Established to Support Newark Campus Buckeye Generation Learning Community

When the senior marketing director at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center heard about the Buckeye Generation Learning Community (BGLC) at The Ohio State University at Newark, she immediately knew she had to help. Lori Abshire, 47, wanted to pledge her annual gift to the university to support the learning community that helps first-generation college students succeed.

“I was a first-generation college student. I grew up in a mobile home on food stamps in West Virginia,” said Abshire. “My mom couldn’t help me figure out college. Due to health issues, she only had a seventh grade education. So, I understand what these students are going through.”

The BGLC was created in 2012 after Newark campus administrators realized first-generation college students were in need of academic and social support. First-generation students are those students whose parents have earned no more than a high school degree. Students in the BGLC take three common courses during autumn semester, which include two general education courses and a first-year introductory course. The BGLC can have up to 80 students each academic year. Students are required to engage in social and cultural activities and receive tutoring support for learning community courses facilitated by peer coaches. The students also receive a $300 book stipend for autumn semester and must have a 2.2 GPA in the autumn semester to get another $300 book stipend for spring semester.

Abshire has a bachelor’s degree in business human resources from West Virginia University and a Master of Business Operational Excellence from the Max M. Fisher College of Business at Ohio State. She looks back on her time as an undergraduate and wonders how she made it through without family and friends to help her navigate college.

“I saw an article on the BGLC program on the Newark campus in the Columbus Dispatch, and I felt a connection with those students,” said Abshire. “I was so thankful that there was a program like that. I wanted to make sure I supported this because it’s something that means something to me. I was really proud to know Ohio State has a program like this.”

Data from the BGLC program proves the program is successful. BGLC students show a pattern of higher cumulative grade point averages, retention rates and graduations rates than other first-generation students. BGLC students are also performing as well as their non-first-generation peers.

“The thing that I was most impressed with was the data,” said Abshire. “I’ve given to a lot of different funds at Ohio State, and the only thing I asked is, ‘Where did my money go, and how did it make an impact?’ This program already answers that for me. I can see how my money will make a difference.”

Abshire called the Newark campus and asked how she could give to the BGLC. Her inquiry prompted the university to establish a fund where employees can donate to support the program.

“When you don’t have someone who has been through college supporting you, it’s such an overwhelming experience. You are battling this fear of whether you can do it. You are dealing with all those emotions, and you don’t have all the tools in your toolkit to find your way through the system,” said Abshire. “I gave to this fund because there shouldn’t be a first-generation college student that steps on the Newark campus who isn’t able to be a part of this learning community. We have to be able to raise the money to provide access to anyone who wants to be a part of it.”

To make a tax-deductible gift to sponsor a student in the BGLC, please contact the Ohio State Newark Development Office at 740-364-9514. The BGLC fund number is 315801.