On May 17, Santa Clara Law celebrated our first-generation students at our annual First-Generation Graduation Celebration!

This year’s graduating class consisted of 81 first-generation students. First-generation students at Santa Clara Law are interpreted as a student who is the first in their family to attend college and
go on to law school. The First-Generation Graduation Celebration serves to provide an opportunity to celebrate the unique accomplishment of overcoming barriers facing first-generation students and brings together the Santa Clara Law community to congratulate them on their achievements.

Speakers included Santa Clara Law Dean Michael Kaufman and Professor Devin Kinyon. A common theme emerged at this year’s celebration: family support. The First-Generation Graduation Celebration was open to parents and family members this year specifically as many graduates credited familial support as critical to their success. Two first-generation graduates, Ryba Bhullar, and Josephine Velazquez, provided moving personal remarks.

Josephine (Josy) Velazquez 

Josephine Velazquez J.D. ’23 credited the broader community as well in her remarks: “Yes, our first-gen identity did not make this journey easy, but it sure brought together a strong community. A community that reminded us that we were not alone nor were we the only ones going through it,” she remarked. “This community composed of faculty, staff, our own peers, and mentors served as a foundation to our momentum and drive throughout law school. Once we felt a door close, someone was there to help us open another new door that was out of sight. When the system failed us, our community stepped up.”

Ryba Bhullar

Ryba Bhullar J.D. ’23 provided touching testimony of the role of family in her success: “We will celebrate the parents, grandparents, and siblings who navigated unfamiliar legal vocabulary with us, listened intently to courtroom stories, prayed for us to get good grades, and always provided words of encouragement, tight hugs, and a bowl of fresh fruit while we studied. And I would be remiss if I did not thank my own parents at this time.”

This year’s event was planned by Professor Devin Kinyon, Sandra Vega, and Jose Gallo Alvarado. The event was supported by the Dean’s Office, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Academic and Bar Success, and the Externship Program.

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