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 Education, Advancement and Alumni Engagement, and various support services.


The 1915 Scholars Program aims to empower, support and advocate for First-Generation and/or Limited Income (FGLI) students at Emory in an inclusive environment where their shared experiences are welcomed and affirmed. The program will serve as a gateway for the network of services and resources necessary to expand and strengthen access to academic support, financial aid, career opportunities, and social engagement for the FGLI student community. The Program is supported by key campus partnerships. These partners include but are not limited to Advancement and Alumni Engagement, Office of Undergraduate Education, Student Case Management and Intervention Services, Crisis Management Services, Emory Career Center, and the Center for Belonging and Community Justice.


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 is currently closed. Please contact Michelle Johnson at for more information.


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
  • Understanding of how Campus Life initiatives, resources, programs, and events can assist in their student development
  • Engage with alumni and faculty mentors to receive personalized academic, social, and career advising
  • Build community with other 1915 Scholars and first-generation students through structured social and networking events
  • Connect students to faculty and other key Emory advisors, such as financial advisors, academic advisors, career advisors, and case managers
  • Receive individualized support and guidance from upperclass peer mentors
  • Demonstrate leadership and advising skills with advisees when serving as a peer mentor
  • 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 director of academic advisement at Ramapo College of New Jersey and worked alongside 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.

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