For the first time since the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Center on Professionalism (COP) initiated its First Generation Professionals (FGP) Fellowship, each of the three JD classes in the Law School includes a cohort of FGP Fellows. Though the initial intention was to support six Fellows, the FGP Fellowship currently supports nine outstanding First Generation JD students.
“Our school is very dedicated to supporting First Generation students, which is a historically overlooked group and a group that often needs support of dedicated staff and faculty members in the school,” said COP Director Joseph Glyn. “Without the background of a professional in your family, law school can be daunting, particularly if you know your classmates do have that background. A strong Law School community can help fill that gap and propel first generation students to success.”
The inaugural class of FGP Fellows includes Raymond Magsaysay L’22, Leticia Salazar L’22, and Jasmine Wang L’22. In its second year, the program welcomed Trevor Kirby L’23 and Virinchi Sindhwani L’23. Joining them in the program’s third year are Kelsang Dolma L’24, Keith Matier L’24, Michelle Rodriguez L’24, and Rae Schlueter L’24.
Through the program, which was established through a generous donation from Law School Board of Advisors member David Silk L’88, FGP Fellows receive access to comprehensive professionalism training throughout their time in law school. This includes opportunities to forge meaningful mentor relationships and engage in valuable networking events. Moreover, Fellows also meet with strategically selected professionalism coaches for individualized support for career success; some of the most popular coaching topics include financial literacy, executive coaching, and public speaking.
“We are attempting to nurture other components of a law student experience with one-on-one personalized coaching in the areas of technology, career strategizing, executive communication skill building, storytelling, and financial literacy,” said COP Assistant Director Claudia Toro. “We also look to offer development of their LinkedIn pages while they’re in school and connect them to at least two mentors that are outside of the law school to grow their personal and professional networks.”
Notably, the one-on-one professionalism coaching will continue through the first year of the Fellows’ post-graduate experience as they continue to develop workplace skills requisite for career success.
“We are trying to bridge the gaps found in the pipeline for First Generation students, from the time they consider going to law school, to being in law school, to paying for law school, and then to giving back to their families and their newly-developed law communities,” Toro said. “COP has always been about finding professional gaps in that pipeline for all students, and to be able to do it for a focused population not only benefits future generations of FGP law students, but all law students.”
Supporting FGP students aligns with the Law School’s overarching mission to expand diversity and equity both in the Law School and in the legal profession. FGP students make up 29% of the class of 2023 and 31% of the class of 2024.
In Glyn’s opinion, one of the most fortuitous outcomes of the FGP Fellowship has been the organic support network that the Fellows themselves initiated to connect with, encourage, and support one another as they grow as future lawyers and leaders within the legal field.
“Our 3L Fellows – our inaugural class – did a wonderful job cultivating a sense of community among their underclassmen. When the 2Ls were in their first year of law school, they did not have those first-person experiences that the 3Ls had, so the 3Ls are extremely valuable. They did a wonderful job reaching out to the 2Ls and making sure they were supported,” said Glyn. “As we continue to grow the Fellowship, I think one of the most wonderful things about it has been seeing how the Fellows relate to each other and support each other.”