For UConn senior Nicholas Furlow, the Travelers EDGE program has been a part of his academic journey since he was a junior in high school.
“The Travelers EDGE program played a big role, not only through its financial support but also by being a resource when I was first starting at UConn,” says Furlow, who is majoring in management information systems with minors in data analytics and urban community studies. “College can feel overwhelming if you don’t have a foundation; this program was my foundation.”
Travelers EDGE (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment), provides a unique and holistic approach for students. Through partnerships with middle and high schools, colleges, universities and community-based organizations, the program increases access to higher education and provides students with opportunities to succeed.
Travelers has partnered with UConn since 2008, and since then, 76 students have graduated from the Travelers EDGE program. Out of the 76 graduates, 68 interned at Travelers and 26 work at the company. Currently, there are 17 active Travelers EDGE students at UConn.
Seanice Austin, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at UConn’s School of Business, says that Travelers has made a long-term investment in UConn and Hartford-area students.
“The Travelers EDGE program is transformative for students from marginalized communities,” she says. “The program targets students who otherwise may not have had access to this type of peer mentorship and support.”
In addition to financial support through scholarships and stipends, the program also provides academic guidance, professional development opportunities, mentoring and peer-to-peer assistance. For students like Furlow, mentorship is a crucial part of their success.
“My mentor helped me focus on getting the most out of this program,” he says. “They were someone that I could go to for advice about navigating the field and entering the workforce.”
Austin says that it is exciting to see program alumni becoming mentors themselves, giving back to the next generation of Travelers EDGE scholars.
“The program has always included mentorship by professionals at Travelers, and now we are seeing alums taking on that role,” she says. “They bring in a different perspective as they share insights with our current scholars.”
Kadijah McGehee ’16 (BUS) is a Travelers EDGE alumna who gives back in this way. McGehee, who now works for Travelers as an IT project manager in Business Insurance, feels like fate intervened when she originally learned about the program.
“I remember how I felt when I was accepted to all 10 colleges I applied to,” she says. “I also remember how I felt when I got all of the financial aid packages back from the other schools.”
McGehee says the math was not adding up between the financial aid packages and the cost, but Travelers EDGE helped her obtain a full-tuition scholarship.
“I attribute the majority of my success to the program and those who support it,” she says. “It’s important to be able to pay it forward and return all that I received.”
Like McGehee, Furlow also plans to stay involved with the Travelers EDGE after graduation, hoping to serve as a mentor for future scholars and give back to the program that has given him so much.
“Travelers EDGE is like a family, and it is meaningful when you can connect with someone in the field who went through the same experiences and faced the same obstacles,” he says. “It’s powerful to see the outcome of the program.”