July 17, 2017
This year, three law students, Chet Eckman L’17, Akbar Hossain L’18, and Steven Mills L’19, formed a student group to provide assistance and information for students who are the first professionals in their family. In this video, students from the First Generation Professionals group speak about their experience at Penn Law and what this group provides for them, as well as what it will provide for future students.
Felicia Alexander L’17: I’m originally very rural northern New Mexico. I think my law school classmates here, when I say rural, it’s hard for them to conceptualize what that really means. In a lot of ways I feel like, you know, like I’ve lived two different lives that is worlds different than where I find myself today.
Chet Eckman L’17: I talked with Akbar and Steven, who are other students here, about forming a group for first-generation professionals because there was sort of a void at Penn Law for those kinds of people. There are a lot of different types of diversity at the school that had groups already around it, but for students from these particular backgrounds there really wasn’t anything to support them.
Monica Monroe (Dean of Students): What you’re going to see is whenever people are stepping forward saying, “I am a first-generation professional,” it’s going to be easier for other people who are first-generation professionals to come out and say, “I am also, or have interest in law school.”
Bradie Williams L’18: You have this unique challenges of figuring out yourself, and you’re figuring out academics, and working to try to pay your way through college, and dealing with family. And trying to support them along the way, and all of those things balancing together. When I look back on it now are what make me into the person that I am.
Monica Monroe (Dean of Students): So, I think what is so exciting about this is that you’re realizing there are lots of first-generation students here and that there are lots of things that people assume that you know, but you don’t know, and it’s okay that you don’t know because there’s others who do not, and there are people here who want to support and assist you.
Felicia Alexander L’17: We get very nervous about asking questions because we’re afraid of outing ourselves and showing, “I’m not supposed to be here.” So I think the First Generation Professionals group really creates a safe space where people can discuss the issues that they’re having or the questions that they might have and feel that they’re not being judged.
Monica Monroe (Dean of Students): I think what this group does is: the things that you think that no one else is experiencing when you get in that room and you start talking about your experiences as a first-generation student you realize you do belong here.
Bradie Williams L’18: And the amazing thing about being here is that there are so many other people who can lend similar experiences and everybody appreciates those different perspectives. And that is part of the reason I chose to come here because I just felt welcome, I felt like I was able to express myself and felt like I had a place.
Chet Eckman L’17: I think that this group will help people know that they should be proud and you know, wear that, or fly their flag high for whatever it is.