Breaking the Cycle: Alumnus Expands Access to Pre-College Starting with his Hometown
October 16, 2023 — As a proud Marist alumnus, John Liporace ’88 has channeled his passion and determination into making a difference in the lives of others. For over 15 years, he has been running his own nonprofit, JLS Foundation, which is dedicated to providing college scholarships to high school students in financial need who come from his hometown of Hoosick Falls, New York. The work of the foundation, named after his late father, John Liporace Sr., was a way to give back to a town that has given so much to him.
As a first-generation college student himself, Liporace was inspired by his father and his Marist experience, which started in the 1980s when he first arrived on campus, and continues to this day. His Marist experience inspired him to be civic-minded and also propelled him to a very successful career as a Managing Partner at Taylor, a leading consumer marketing communications agency in New York City.
A Focus on First-Generation College Students
“I wanted to give back,” said Liporace. “I felt like there was something more I could be doing by trying to find students that needed and deserved my help the most. Everything I’ve read about first-generation students, and if you help them get through college and into a career and it can really break what is sometimes a cycle of poverty. So, it’s a worthy cause.”
John Liporace ’88 by his old locker at Hoosick Falls High School.
While already engaged in valuable efforts to provide financial assistance to students in need for their college education, Liporace aspired to expand his impact. This summer, he enabled four deserving prospective first-generation college students with financial need, from Hoosick Falls, to participate in pre-college classes at his alma mater, Marist. These scholarships weren’t solely about financial support; they symbolized a commitment to breaking the cycle for deserving students facing financial constraints and unlocking doors to a brighter future and a generational impact.
“Research shows that helping first-generation students, especially those with significant financial need, to get through college and into a thriving career, is one of the most effective ways to promote economic and social mobility,” said Liporace. “If we can get first-generation students through college and into those careers, it’s mobility that typically lasts for generations.”
(Left to Right) Sophia Gorman, Sade Fitz, Keira Chapman, and Jack Cavanaugh at Hoosick Falls High School.
A Unique Pre-College Student Experience
Hoosick Falls is a small town where opportunity could seem far away, and for some of these students, it was their first time being away from home for an extended period of time.
“Pre-college was a trip! I thought it was going to be the longest two weeks of my life and I wish it was longer,” said Sophia Gorman, Hoosick Falls student who took a creative writing course during Pre-College at Marist. “I had so much fun. I feel the experience at Marist helped me focus this year and gave me something to drive for towards the end of the school year.”
Jack Cavanaugh (far right) learns about the high-tech mannequins in the Simulation Lab during a Pre-Health class at Summer Pre-College.
“Being away from home, it wasn’t easy at first but I feel like it really prepared me to be more confident for my freshman year at college,” Jack Cavanaugh, Hoosick Falls student who took a pre-health course during Pre-College at Marist. “For someone considering Pre-College, I would say definitely go. It was a great opportunity to experience something a lot of kids don’t get to experience.”
“The class I took was really challenging, but I learned a lot. I liked that it got me into the medical field,” Sade Fitz, Hoosick Falls student who also took a pre-health course during Pre-College at Marist. “There were people from different medical fields that came in so you were exposed to a lot. I’m now considering more of a physician’s assistant track as opposed to nursing.”
Sade Fitz (second from right) learns about athletic emergency health procedures during a Pre-Health class at Summer Pre-College.
“I got to see what colleges are really like and it made me think about a lot of things I didn’t even consider before,” said Keira Chapman, Hoosick Falls student who took a game design course during Pre-College at Marist. “I really liked being able to get away from everything for a while and I enjoyed seeing new things and meeting new people. It made me step out of my comfort zone. I was super nervous doing it, but it was so worth it.
The support continues for these four Hoosick Falls students through Liporace’s foundation. They are also receiving college search mentorship and when they enter college, will also be provided no-cost tutoring during their first year. It was an idea that would further level the playing field for first-generation students, ensuring they had the support needed to excel academically.
John Liporace visits with the students at Hoosick Falls High School.
A Pilot Program That Will Grow
This was a pilot scholarship program for Liporace. While he plans to continue to make it possible for a handful of Hoosick Falls students to attend Marist Pre-College each year, he is also planning to expand his program to include other deserving high school students from around the northeast.
“I am building a network of public college prep schools that are in underserved communities where we know there’s a high population of first-generation students and we’re going to work with those schools to find those first-gen students that fit our qualifications. I was thinking about what types of support that first-generation students could use and I think that a pre-college program is built for (it), because they typically don’t have parents at home that can tell them about the college experience.”
For Liporace, breaking the cycle for those with financial need and providing opportunities for first-generation college students has become a lifelong mission. Reflecting on his own college experience, Liporace says Marist has been instrumental in shaping his values and his commitment to giving back.
“Marist played an important role as well in helping me appreciate the value of a college education, that my parents did not have,” said Liporace. “I think about the Marist Brothers and that they were founded with the goal to help educate young people, especially the ones who were less fortunate so this feels very much in the spirit of Marist.”
As for the students, they are filled with both gratitude and excitement about what lies ahead.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity,” Keira Chapman added. “My family doesn’t have a lot of extra money, so I never would have been able to do something like this otherwise.”
(Left to Right) Jack Cavanaugh, Sophia Gorman, John Liporace, Sade Fitz, and Keira Chapman in front of the Hoosick Falls High School.
About Marist’s Pre-College Program
Marist's summer pre-college program offers students a glimpse into college life, a chance to explore various college majors, and the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. Discover more information about the program here.