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First Generation Advocates Pay It Forward

Posted By Madhavi Sunder, Dec 12, 2017

I was fortunate to celebrate the last day of class for the fall term with some amazing 2Ls and 3Ls at King Hall, who are all “first generation” students, that is, the first generation in their families to attend college or professional school. The students — Gymmel Garcia Carmona ’19, Gladys Pimentel Hernandez ’19, Kimberly M. Waldon ’18, Ken L Wang ’18, Angela Yahaira Breining ’18, Pablo F. Colmenares ’19, and Tanairi Alcaraz ’18— have worked hard all semester to create a curriculum for First Generation Students. They are paying it forward to make an easier path for those who come after them. We look forward to receiving their recommendations.

This fall the law school launched a new First Generation Advocates program to support law students who are the first in their families to attend college or professional school. The program was inaugurated with a special First Generation, First Week Welcome Reception on August 24 in the King Hall Courtyard.

As part of the School of Law’s commitment to diversity and the ideals of social justice espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., King Hall is dedicated to maintaining a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds. The First Generation Advocates program was created to promote diversity and maximize the academic, professional, and personal success of students who are the first from their families to earn a college or professional degree as well as students from low-income backgrounds.

At the heart of the program is its mentorship component, in which first generation students are paired with a faculty or staff mentor, who will provide insight and guidance regarding the special challenges faced by first generation law students. Participating mentors include Kevin R. Johnson, Dean of the School of Law, Cruz Reynoso, Professor Emeritus and former California Supreme Court justice, and other distinguished faculty members from a wide range of backgrounds.

The program also includes the First Generation Advocate Seminar Series, which features King Hall faculty and alumni and distinguished guest speakers leading discussions focused on the issues and challenges typically encountered by first generation students, such as the financial challenges of legal education, pressures associated with law school assimilation, and related subjects. In addition, the School of Law will provide networking opportunities for incoming first generation students to meet faculty, alumni, and returning students with similar backgrounds in informal settings that encourage the sharing of experiences and promote community and collegiality.

This year the school was proud to admit our most diverse first-year class ever. We are committed to celebrating and supporting in every way our diverse student body, and the First Generation Advocates program is part of that commitment.

First Generation Advocates Dinner