First Generation Celebration Week at Penn

The term “first-generation” can bring up mixed feelings. As can be the case with many labels, it can feel more marginalizing than empowering. “If I was admitted to Penn through the same process as my peers, why should an aspect of my identity that I had no control over even partially define me?” My response: treat labels as descriptive rather than prescriptive. Being first-gen describes the circumstances in which you were raised, but it doesn’t have to mean anything more than you want it to. You have the freedom to reject the preconceived notions assigned to the first-gen experience that don’t fit your narrative.  

I can empathize with not wanting to feel a step behind classmates and friends simply because my parents didn’t go to college, or even finish high school in their case. But there’s value in objectively evaluating your own readiness for the experiences you’ll face in college, like asking professors about research opportunities or applying to internships. Whether you feel behind, ahead, or more likely somewhere in between, there are abundant resources at Penn you can (and I believe should) avail yourself of. 

First Generation Celebration Week at Penn starts today, and there’s no better chance to get involved. Career Services is one of the many offices on campus participating; we have the brand-new headshot photobooth (located in McNeil Building, basement level, suite 20) reserved for first-gen students this Friday 11/10 from 10-11:30 AM. We’ll also have staff doing LinkedIn reviews at the same time so you can leave with an entirely revamped profile ready for networking! Registration in advance isn’t required, but you can register on Handshake to make sure it’s on your calendar. 

Find the full schedule of events on the Penn First Plus website. You’ll get to explore the many offerings on Penn’s campus while eating free food, receiving cool swag, and most importantly, finding community.  

By Lisa Giang
Lisa Giang Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Students and Nursing/Education/SP2