Q&A: FLI is Fly Week and SIFP with Sara Howard

Sara Howard

Between April 19-25, Princeton University Library (PUL) joins the University community in celebrating FLI is Fly week, which celebrates the successes of first-generation and low-income (FLI) students while shining a spotlight on available resources and services.

Sara Howard, librarian for gender and sexuality studies and student engagement, serves as a Library liaison for FLI students, and helps them to navigate the University and the many services the Library has to offer. She spoke about the importance of Princeton’s Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP) to the University’s FLI students. 

What does FLI is Fly Week celebrate?

FLI is Fly Week exists within the SIFP community to celebrate all of the wonderful achievements of FLI students at Princeton. It’s a chance to share and spotlight student accomplishments, as well as have giveaways, and create opportunities for current students to connect with alumni.

This is such an important year to do it — there have been so many challenges with remote learning, and I think that SIFP students have done a miraculous job navigating these hurdles. This community of students has been growing every year, and with the launch of the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity, Princeton will place a greater focus on all types of non-traditional attendees, like transfers students and veterans who bring diversity to the undergraduate population.

Would you tell us about your work with FLI students? 

PUL has a history of working with the summer FLI program and PUPP program. In 2017 I started working with Courtney Perales Reyes, coordinator and communications associate, programs for access and inclusion, SIFP, on programming. 

Pre-pandemic, we did a weekly study session at Lewis Library where students could come in and study together in a very relaxed, informal setting. During our weekly SIFP study sessions, I didn’t always have the answers, but I could point the students in the right direction to one of my Library colleagues who did. I also learned a great deal about campus culture. Since then we’ve done webinars, thesis prep sessions, and research support during the summer. I am looking forward to seeing students again this fall. 

I see myself as a point of connection and often referral for students. My parents did not have a traditional college experience. I started at community college and then transferred to a private four-year college, and I remember how important it was to connect with people very early on.  

What resources exist for SIFP students?

Many SIFP resources are framed around helping students achieve personal and professional goals. They have mentoring, workshops, ways to connect with alumni, faculty, and staff across campus, as well as methods to get financial support for research.

To make an appointment with Sara Howard, librarian for gender and sexuality studies and student engagement, and learn more about resources available for FLI students, please contact her at sahoward@princeton.edu.

Published April 22, 2021

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director, Library Communications