On January 26, Santa Clara Law celebrated our remarkable first-generation law students at a luncheon in their honor–a deep tradition started by former dean Lisa Kloppenberg and Professors Devin Kinyon and Thiadora Pina.
At this year’s luncheon, University President Julie Sullivan shared with the students her own inspiring first-gen story, recognizing the importance of a support network throughout her academic and professional journey, “As a first-generation student myself, I am so grateful for the important family members and mentors who have affirmed, encouraged, and supported our first-generation law school students in their educational journeys.” President Sullivan acknowledged the dedicated members of the Santa Clara Law community who have created a welcoming and inclusive environment for our first-generation students to thrive, “I also am very grateful for our law school community and leaders who are committed to ensuring our first-generation students continue to flourish and share their talents.”
Reinforcing the message that these students are a vital part of the fabric of our law school community and will be supported every step of the way, Dean Michael Kaufman added his own message of inclusion and belonging for our first-gen students, “Our remarkable first-generation students not only belong at Santa Clara Law, but they also thrive here. They have the perseverance, tenacity, resourcefulness, adaptability, and growth mindset to empower them to achieve great success and well-being as law students and legal professionals. They are a vital part of the very fabric of our community and have already made an invaluable contribution to the future of justice. We have an enduring tradition at the law school of welcoming our first-gen students with open arms and open hearts and ensuring that they are supported every step of the way–that they will never walk on their journeys alone.”
Members of the law faculty, staff, and student employees – a number of whom are also first-gen – attended the luncheon in an effort to meet and honor the vital community of first-generation Santa Clara Law students. Law student and Co-President of the First-Generation Law Student Association, Josephine Velázquez, emphasized the need to provide opportunities for first-generation students to gather, connect, and create community: “The Dean’s Annual First-Gen Lunch was a nice opportunity for first-generation students to get together and have a space that acknowledges an important part of our identity. First-generation law students were able to meet and chat with other first-generation students and come together in community for a bit. As Co-President of the First-Generation Law Student Association, it is crucial for the law school to continue to provide spaces that highlight the first-gen identity while continuing to uplift and provide opportunities and support for us first-gen students.”
“I was impressed when President Sullivan shared her personal journey as a First Gen student and her understanding of the importance of a supportive community for our Santa Clara Law students,” remarked former Dean Lisa Kloppenberg, who established the first generation luncheon and continues to support the program that is central to the enduring mission and values of the law school and the broader University community.