President's Letter

A note on the Mission of First Generation Harvard Alumni

“At the admitted student reception, I was the only person who looked like me who wasn't serving food.  I didn't know if I was supposed to serve or be served."

"My friends back home think I am on one big spring break all the time.”

“My family thinks Harvard is the ‘golden ticket’ and I will lift our whole community out of poverty.”

“I was the superstar of my high school but when I got to Harvard I realized that I totally lacked the preparation to do well here.”

“I remember seeing the price tag on one of my roommate’s sweaters and being shocked: it cost more than the total amount of money I had saved working at Wal-Mart all summer to help me make it through the entire school year.”

Sound familiar? 

First Generation Harvard students – those who represent the first generation of their families to attend a four-year US university – face unique challenges adjusting to and succeeding at Harvard.  Whether it is integrating into a social environment with wealth and privilege on a level unimaginable before arriving on campus, or trying to thrive in an academic setting for which high school may not have been adequate preparation, or figuring out how to navigate the enormous chasm that can exist between the world you came from and the one you now inhabit – these concerns can be confusing and difficult.  While attending Harvard is an enormous opportunity and privilege, it can also be a complicated or alienating time for those whose families are not “to the manor born.”

Enter First Generation Harvard Alumni.

We are an officially recognized Shared Interest Group of the Harvard Alumni Association, formed by First Gen alumni.  We are committed to making Harvard a better place for today’s First Gen students, who comprise 1 of 6 current undergraduates. We accomplish this through mentoring, advocacy, and providing networking opportunities.  

We remember what it was like for us, and we’re determined to make it better for today’s students.  If you share our commitment, join us.


Kevin Jennings '85

President, FGHA