Northwestern Provost Kathleen Hagerty has appointed Mesmin Destin, an associate professor in the School of Education and Social Policy and in the Department of Psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, as faculty director of student access and enrichment, effective Sept. 1.
In this inaugural role, Destin will leverage his experience as a scholar of inequality and student experiences to contribute to the ongoing work of Student Enrichment Services (SES) and First-Generation Lower- Income (FGLI) Initiatives, coordinate the programs, and help develop a vision for enhanced engagement with first-generation and lower-income students at Northwestern.
“As Northwestern’s student body diversifies across multiple dimensions, it is critical that the institution grows in ways that authentically embrace students’ backgrounds, perspectives and goals,” said Destin, a founding co-director of the SESP Leadership Institute, which builds on student strengths and identities to support success and well-being. “I am eager to collaborate with the incredible staff and students who are dedicated to constantly improving our Northwestern community.”
Destin’s research examines how resources and opportunities can shape young people's identities, experiences, and educational paths. Long fascinated by the kinds of forces that can influence the lives and futures of young people, for better or for worse, his powerful experiments over the last 15 years have asked, “can environments and experiences change people’s lives by expanding their identities, rather than shrinking them?”
Destin was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2021; the year before he was honored with the International Society for Self and Identity Outstanding Early Career Award. In 2019, he received the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution and Northwestern’s Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award. He is a fellow of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research.
Destin’s multidisciplinary research lab includes graduate students from Northwestern’s Department of Psychology as well as the School of Education and Social Policy. Building connections across two departments benefits everyone’s work and creates rich discussions, he says.
“We are eager to integrate the efforts of the Office of the Provost with Student Affairs to comprehensively support our students who are first-generation students or come from low-income backgrounds,” Hagerty said. “Mesmin Destin has the academic insights and leadership skills to position Northwestern for even greater success for all of its undergraduate students.”
Student Affairs established Student Enrichment Services in 2014 as a direct result of student efforts led by Quest+. Building upon the work of founding director Kourtney Cockrell, Senior Director Sharitza Rivera-Millett and the SES staff focus their efforts on partnering with FGLI and DACA/undocumented students as a hub for a range of relevant resources and community-building efforts.
“Mesmin’s appointment underscores the power of partnership as we work to holistically support our students,” said Susan Davis, vice president for Student Affairs. “His focus furthers the collaboration between Student Affairs and the academic community, ensuring that research and scholarship continue to inform our practice and our practice informs research and scholarship.”
In 2022, the Office of the Provost established the Office of FGLI Initiatives as part of recommendations from the Undergraduate Student Lifecycle initiative. In his role as senior director of FGLI Initiatives, Michael Fitzpatrick leads campus collaboration on strategies and policies that support undergraduate students who identify as first-generation and/or lower-income. This includes advancing the development of policies that attend to the emerging needs of FGLI students at Northwestern in collaboration with schools and units across campus.