The 1915 Scholars Program celebrates the heritage and on-going journey of students who are the first in their family to attend college. The program provides informational, academic, and social support to first-generation students in order to alleviate some of the barriers they commonly encounter – while encouraging and supporting students’ collegiate aspirations. The program involves faculty, peer, and alumni mentoring, specialized orientation programs, on-going academic workshops and community-building events through structured interactions with Campus Life, the Office of Undergraduate Educations, Advancement and Alumni Engagement, and various support services.


Students must identify as a first-generation college student in order to apply to the 1915 Scholars program. Applications are open each summer and close at the end of August. The application for the 2022-2023 academic year can be found here.


Numerous research efforts have revealed that low-income, first-generation students are at risk of dropping out. For example, research from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests that such students are nearly four times as likely to leave a higher education institution after their first year as students who had neither of these risk factors. They often receive less financial support from their parents than their peers and have more time-intensive personal and professional obligations.


Students who participate in the 1915 Scholars Program will:

  • Gain practical knowledge of and familiarity with support services on the Emory campus and in the surrounding community
  • Gain practical knowledge of and familiarity with Campus Life initiatives, resources, programs, and events
  • Engage with faculty mentors and receive personalized academic and professional advising
  • Build community with other current 1915 Scholars through structured social and networking events
  • Receive individualized support and guidance from upper-class peer advisors as advisees
  • Demonstrate leadership and advising skills with advisees when serving as a peer advisor
  • Connect with alumni who will serve as professional mentors
  • Network and engage with fellow alumni upon completion of an Emory degree
  • Become empowered and connected with leaders in the Emory community

Faculty/Staff who participate in the 1915 Scholars Program will:

  • Further develop student advising and mentorship competencies
  • Engage with and tangibly impact the collegiate experience of talented, historically underrepresented students
  • Better comprehend and appreciate the barriers to success faced by low-income, first-generation college students
  • Support Emory in its commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse, inclusive, and dynamic environment for all students

In implementing the 1915 Scholars Program, Emory University will:

  • Strengthen the recruitment and retention efforts of low-income students and first-generation students
  • In accordance with the University Vision Statement, further diversify the Emory student body by allowing greater access and support to students with limited financial means
  • In accordance with the University Ethical Principles Statement, foster a community environment that enables all persons to strive toward their highest potential
  • Maintain its commitment to supporting historically underserved population.

Additional Support for First-Generation and/or Low-Income Students

Some offices and organizations supporting FLI students at Emory include:

Many of the programs and services hosted by the 1915 Scholars Program are open and available to any first-gen low-income (FLI) student regardless of their status with the program. Workshops, networking events, and other programs will be regularly advertised with partner organizations and offices. Previous workshops and events have included:

  • Studying Away Panel with FLI Students and International & Summer Programs
  • FAFSA Workshop with the Office of Financial Aid
  • First-Gen Welcome Cookout with faculty, staff, and students
  • Financial Literacy with the Office of Financial Aid
  • Finals Preparation and Stress Relief programs

Dr. Michelle Johnson


Dr. Michelle Johnson serves as the inaugural director of the 1915 scholars program. Johnson has over 10 years of experience working with and supporting first-generation students. Most recently, she served as the director of academic advising at Georgia College. Dr. Johnson also served as the inaugural director of academic advisement at Ramapo College of New Jersey and oversaw the New Jersey Equal Opportunity Fund program, which focuses on providing funding, access and support for financially disadvantaged students to attend college.

Johnson holds a bachelor of science in psychology from Houghton College, a master of science in student personnel administration from Buffalo State College, and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Johnson has also received a certificate in management development from the Institutes of Higher Education at Harvard University.

Internal Committee

Danielle Bruce-Steele

Belonging and Community Justice, Emory Campus Life

Ally Howard

Advancement and Alumni Engagement

Alice Rollins

Office of Undergraduate Education

George Lunkin

Office of Financial Aid

Sarbeth Fleming

Office of Undergraduate Admission

Michele Davis

Emory Alum

Dona Yarbrough

Emory Campus Life

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