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First Generation Professionals

First Generation Professionals (FGP) supports students who are the first in their families to earn a college degree, as well as students who are from working-class or lower-income backgrounds. The group is designed to enhance your academic success, professional growth and personal development.

We offer:

  • Peer Mentorship — You will be paired with a current student and an alumni mentor.
  • Seminar Series — You will have the opportunity to attend a variety of seminars focused on the unique issues and challenges facing FGP law students.
  • Networking — You'll get to know other first-generation students, faculty and alumni, while your shared experiences will forge a sense of community that carries through to both academic and professional success.

Mentorship

At USC Gould, we know that FGP students face special hurdles in the law school assimilation process. The study and practice of law demand certain lifestyle and perspective changes. The time and intensity of focus required to achieve mastery of the law is daunting.

Many of the changes you experience may initially isolate you from your community of family and friends at a time when support is needed most. For example, you may have to cope with pressure to spend more time attending to family commitments at the same time that law school and professional life are making more demands on your time. You may also find that your voice or perspective is changing in ways that make it harder to relate to some of your community members and, additionally, you may experience some ambivalence about the study of law.

Finally, you may face economic pressures that are difficult to talk about with others who have not experienced the same kind of financial anxiety. Student-peer networks and alumni support networks can play a key role for you as you deal with the pressure of being a law student and a young professional.

We see your perspective as a source of strength that, properly supported, can provide valuable insight into what it means to ethically practice law and what is required to allow the law to achieve its full social justice potential.

Seminar Series

Some of the seminars we offer for FGP students may include:

  • School Work and Life Work
  • Public Interest Work and the First Generation Professional
  • Working Identity: Name Changes, Cultural Challenges and Other Assimilation Pressures
  • Gender and the First Generation Professional
  • Résumé Writing for the First Generation Professional
  • Interviewing Skills
  • The Interview Date
  • Dressing the Part
  • Debt and the First Generation Professional

Networking

We also sponsor a student support network and study groups as part of our programming. Our goal is to provide early, meaningful intervention to assist our FGP students and young alumni in managing their law school and early career experience.

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Given our socio-economic status and my parents' lack of college education, I had little practical guidance or financial support for applying to college as well as grad school and law school. I always worked while studying to make ends meet. In the classroom, I faced the challenge of engaging in intellectual conversation on topics that I had never been exposed to growing up. My advice to first generation students is not to be afraid to reach out for help. There are many who want to support you in various ways.

Hannah Garry
Clinical Professor of Law
Director, International Human Rights Clinic

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