The number of students enrolled at Penn who identify as being in the first generation of their family to attend college has risen substantially. Many of these students also demonstrate significant financial need as they pursue their dreams of earning Penn degrees.
As this student population increases, so, too, is the amount of resources Penn offers to help them make the most of their undergraduate experience.
This year marked the second time New Student Orientation in August featured events focusing specifically on first-generation and highly aided students. That included a Welcome Barbecue, where first-generation students and their families gathered to meet one another and learn about the resources available to them on campus.
President Amy Gutmann made a special appearance at the event, mingling with the crowd and speaking about her experiences as both a first-generation college student and as a fierce advocate for them.
“When I started college, it was hard to find another student like me anywhere,” Gutmann said to the audience. “I am proud that we are increasingly recognizing how important our first-generation students are.
“Many people here are going to help you over the years,” Gutmann continued. “We are committed to your success because your success is our success.”
To affirm this commitment, the University has launched the Penn First Plus program, with initiatives attuned to students’ unique and multifaceted needs. Every Penn First Plus priority builds on the strides Penn has made to date to grow a more diverse and inclusive student community and ensure that all students have the support they need to thrive at Penn.
Anea, C’19, a senior from Philadelphia who served as co-chair of the 2018 1vyG Conference held at Penn, is adamant that the momentum continues.
“How do we truly create socioeconomically diverse places in which students like us never feel the ‘imposter syndrome’?” Anea asks. “The fact is that we can’t do that without financial support, administrative support. We can’t push forward without adults being on our side.”
To learn more about the Penn First Plus and ways you can add your support, please contact Maryann O’Leary Salas at (215) 898-4551.