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Seven students — all members of Tri-Alpha and Bentley's Class of 2024 — pose with the braided and tasseled cords representing their membership in the honor society that they will wear during graduation.
Members of Tri-Alpha and Bentley’s Class of 2024 pose with the braided cords that signify their membership in the first-gen honor society. (Photos by Maddie Schroeder)

Last month, Bentley’s chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha) — a national honor society recognizing academic excellence among first-generation college students — welcomed 42 students and 19 faculty and staff as members during its second-ever induction ceremony, co-led by faculty advisers Jackie Masloff, a senior lecturer in Computer Information Systems, and João Resende-Santos, an associate professor of Global Studies.

Callie Amour ’24 with Professor Joao Resende-Santos
Callie Amour ’24 with Professor Resende-Santos

Founded in 2018, Tri-Alpha today has 248 chapters at colleges and universities in 38 states. To be inducted, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.2 (for undergraduates) or 3.5 (for graduate students) and qualify as a first-generation college student, which is defined as having parents, stepparents or legal guardians who did not complete an associate or bachelor’s degree. For Bentley students, induction fees were covered in full by the university’s First-Generation Student Success Fund.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Tesluk welcomed inductees and their friends and families to the ceremony, where he observed that the university’s founder, Harry C. Bentley, was himself a first-generation college student when he graduated from NYU in 1903. “Seeing your success today reminds us of who we are at our best,” Tesluk said, noting that Bentley would be proud to know that the university that bears his name remains committed to “enabling the success of those who have the passion and drive to be pioneers as the first in their families to graduate from college.”

Tri-Alpha officers (from left): Cole Veltre ’26, Nayeli Franco ’24, Judaea Whittingham ’24 and Anton Spiridnov ’25.
2023-2024 Tri- Alpha officers (from left) Cole Veltre ’26, treasurer; Nayeli Franco ’24 and Judaea Whittingham ’24, co-presidents; and Anton Spiridnov ’25, vice president.

Judaea Whittingham ’24, who serves as Tri-Alpha co-president alongside Nayeli Franco ’24, echoed these sentiments in her own remarks. Whittingham graduates next month with a major in Computer Information Systems and a minor in Marketing; after interning last summer with The TJX Companies, Inc., she was offered (and accepted) a full-time job offer and will join the company as an IT product analyst.

“Before I was accepted to Bentley, I didn’t know what it meant to be a first-generation college student,” Whittingham shared. “I didn’t understand what a privilege it is to have parents, or even grandparents, who had attended college, and how much of a difference that can make when it comes to how successful you are in your own career.”

Daelle Guirand ’25 displays her Tri-Alpha certificate.
Daelle Guirand ’25

Recently, she said, “I learned that my great-grandfather didn’t have anything beyond a third-grade education. My grandmother, who grew up in the Jim Crow South, has only a high school education. And my mother found herself in circumstances that didn’t allow her to finish her secondary education. I am here today — a woman of color about to graduate with a full-time job offer and ready to take on the world — representing four generations of hard work to ensure that I could have more opportunities to achieve and succeed than they did.”  

Whittingham also spoke of the importance of creating community among first-generation students, telling inductees that “Tri-Alpha represents a place where we can be recognized, speak openly about our shared experiences and offer advice and support to each other.”  

Co-adviser Resende-Santos, a first-gen student himself, acknowledges that “the college experience can be quite challenging, especially since first-gen students are more likely to have commitments outside the classroom, such as working part-time jobs to support their families back home.”  

But he notes that Bentley offers a variety of programs and services — including the First-Gen Presidential Fellows Program, a leadership development and scholarship program that individually pairs students with first-gen alumni mentors — that provide first-gen students with the resources they need to thrive: “The support we give goes a long way to helping our students succeed, both here at Bentley and beyond.” 

Stephanie Ribiero ’26, Alisha Khalifa ’26 and Kiley Lachance ’26 pose with their Tri-Alpha certificates.
Left to right: Stephanie Ribiero ’26, Alisha Khalifa ’26 and Kiley Lachance ’26

RELATED: Trustee Dan Farley, MBA ’95 kickstarts First-Gen Student Success Fund