News 2024: College Now students "Share the Dream"

News 2024: College Now students "Share the Dream"
College Now students "Share the Dream"

College Now/START students celebrate achievements at 56th annual banquet

The College Now/START program first-year class poses in celebration of becoming degree candidates at UMass Dartmouth.
The College Now/START program first-year class poses after officially becoming degree candidates at UMass Dartmouth.

After successfully completing College Now's fall academic program, 80 first-year students and their families gathered for the annual "Share the Dream" banquet to celebrate their success at assimilating into the UMass Dartmouth community and accept scholarships.

College Now/START is an alternative admissions program at UMass Dartmouth, which supports academically disadvantaged students who may have ruled out college because of academic difficulties due to social or personal hardships. After completing the fall semester, the first-year class of College Now students become degree candidates at UMass Dartmouth and can choose from 120 academic programs.

"There is nothing passive or performative about this program. This is activism at its best," said College Now Director Craig Elkins. "We're not just recognizing challenges and talking about them but acting on them with intention and results. This action may look or feel different at times, but the mission remains the same – to better the lives of those in our communities.

"In this room there are generations of success stories who continue to engage with and support our program. As a first-year student, it is now your turn to engage with your peers and lead by example in all that you do. You must ensure our campus reflects the values and culture of our students and remains the heartbeat of our institution's reputation."

The annual banquet and awards ceremony was named after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech, as it hopes to be the bridge that creates equity across all ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. College Now/START gives underserved and underfunded students a chance to "Share the Dream."

"I know the journey of earning a college degree can be difficult, but at UMass Dartmouth, you're not alone," said Chancellor Mark Fuller. "College is a big adjustment for everyone. There are hard days. But we believe in you, and we are here to help you succeed. Stay determined, study a little bit every day, get involved on campus, and ask for help when you need it."

Thirty-five College Now/START students achieved at least a 3.0 GPA last semester and were awarded a Talent Merit Scholarship. Twelve additional scholarships established by community members, alumni of the program, and generous donors help ensure that 51 students have the resources necessary to enroll, persist, and graduate from UMass Dartmouth.

"Not only have I performed well in my studies, but I've also made friends in this program," said Alyssa Dang '27, a first-year College Now student speaker. "I'm so thankful to College Now, Craig [Elkins], and my advisor Vera [Delgado], for helping ease my transition to college life, for giving me the confidence to believe in myself, and helping me better myself as a student and, more importantly, as a human."

Vera Delgado (left) and Alyssa Dang '27 (right)
Vera Delgado (left) and Alyssa Dang '27 (right)

About College Now/START

Through College Now/START, students enter UMass Dartmouth full-time with the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as other students, with specialized academic counseling, instruction, and individualized attention to ease the transition into college. In the fall of 2022, over 180 students enrolled at the university through the College Now/START program.

After College Now students prove themselves and become degree candidates, they continue to work with College Now counselors, who aid in goal setting, course selection, academic achievement, and short- and long-term program planning.

Because of all they have in common, College Now/START students become a close-knit group and a source of encouragement and support for one another throughout their four years at UMass Dartmouth.

For more information about College Now/START, reach out to