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Our Mission Statement

"First Generation" is a group of Harvard alumni who are the first members of their families to attend college and who seek to support current first-generation students. As an officially-recognized Shared Interest Group of the Harvard Alumni Association, our mission is to help make Harvard a better place for current first-generation Harvard students. We achieve this through mentoring, advocacy and providing networking opportunities. Thanks to the generosity of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, first-generation students make up a substantial portion of today’s undergraduate student body (estimates run as high as 18%). Our goal is to help make Harvard a welcoming place for them.

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Want to get involved? Join the Harvard First-Generation Alumni mailing list by emailing with the following information:

  • Name
  • School Year
  • Email 
  • Mailing Address

Support the First Generation Student Union at Harvard!

Dear First Generation Harvard Alumni,


My name is Ana Barros and I am the current President of the Harvard College First Generation Student Union (FGSU). Over the past year, I have seen FGSU grow from a small student group into a powerful voice for change on our campus. In one short year we have effectively changed the conversation surrounding the first gen experience at Harvard, from one of stigma and silence, to one of affirmation and pride. We have channeled the pain of our experiences –the discomfort, the frustration, and alienation –into productive change that has positively affected our campus. We have pushed for meaningful institutional change, tackling issues of accessibility and transparency in Harvard offices through our Community Conversations initiative, and successfully advocating for the creation of two first gen student liaison positions at the Harvard Admissions Office. The FGSU has proven that it is much more than just an organization; it is a movement with the potential to radically change our campus for the better. We have experienced so much growth, but there is still much more left to be done. With your help, we can continue our mission of creating the best possible experience for first generation students at Harvard.


We are asking for your assistance in raising funds to support our annual operations, events, and activities, particularly our visibility campaign taking place during Visitas weekend (April 25th-27th). Last year, thanks to the generous donations of our alumni, we were able to launch a highly successful visibility campaign during Harvard’s admitted students weekend.  As a result of our campaign, we were able to increase awareness of the first generation college experience on our campus and greatly expand our membership. This year, we aim to raise $1780 to fund our visibility campaign. This money will cover the cost of 250 t-shirts, 500 buttons, and the printing costs for the 700 informational first generation pamphlets that will be placed inside the official Harvard bags that admitted students receive from the Admissions Office.


Tax-deductible donations may be made to Harvard in support of the FGSU via check or online credit card donation. Donation checks should be made payable to “Harvard University” and include our student organization name, “Harvard College First Generation Student Union,” and gift account number, 330328, in the memo line of the check. Checks should be mailed directly to the Harvard College First Generation Student Union, Student Organization Center at Hilles (SOCH), Box # 216, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

For credit card donations please visit the Harvard online giving form. Select “Unrestricted” under Harvard College Fund Designation, and include our student organization name, “Harvard College First Generation Student Union,” and gift account number, 330328, in the “Comments/Other Designation” box.


We invite you to share with us this historic moment in Harvard’s history by supporting FGSU. Your generous contribution will help ensure that first generation students who arrive at Harvard are met, not with silence and stigma, but with a warm and supportive community of students and administration.


Thank you for your support,

Ana Barros

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First Generation Alumni Stories: Franco R. Iudiciani, Sr. ’84


My name is Frank ludiciani, and I was born on January 9th, 1962 of Italian immigrant parents.  Both of them were quite intelligent, but to their disadvantage, a private education was a luxury during their upbringings, and a public school system was non-existent.  Their educations did not exceed our U.S. equivalent of grammar school education, so they resigned themselves to work on their respective family farms.   During World War II, my mother’s home was occupied by Nazi soldiers and officers, who frequently used the threat of execution to control her household.  My father, a soldier in the Italian army, was a two-year prisoner of war at the Nazi hard labor camp in Dortmund, Germany, where he claimed that the living envied the dead.

After World War II, my parents married in Italy and then emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1940s, settling in Boston’s Little Italy, the North End.  They had three children:   my sister, Lucy, born in 1949; my brother, Anthony, born in 1951; and me, the “oops!” baby, born in 1962.  For decades, tourists have flocked to the North End for its U.S. history, and “yuppies” have moved in to the neighborhood because of its ambience.  However, not visible to these individuals was the dark and dangerous side of the North End, and as a result of it, my dear brother, Anthony, was killed in 1970 at the age of just 19 years old, when I was only 8.  Anthony was my very best friend in the world, and no one else has ever come close to being such an awesome friend.

 I, myself, was exposed to violent situations in the North End, having had guns pointed at me on multiple occasions, and even suffering powder burns to the side of my head as a result of someone firing a gun near me.  Another dangerous situation occurred when I was about to be a passenger in someone’s car that had a bomb in it.  Of course, I wanted to distance myself from this lifestyle, while not distancing myself from North End, as I actually loved this neighborhood for its many positive attributes.  I studied hard in grammar school to get into the high school of my choice, and continued studying hard to get into the college of my choice…Harvard.  I graduated cum laude from Harvard in 1984 with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies (VES).

 I am so very grateful to Harvard University for affording me truly one of the greatest opportunities of my life!


First Generation Alumni Stories is a series detailing the experiences of First-Generation Harvard Alumni. If you'd like to share your story here, please email 

Learning on the fly

New York Times article on what it's like to be First-Generation at an Ivy League School.


APRIL 8, 2015 

Ana Barros grew up in a two-family house built by Habitat for Humanity, hard by the boarded-up buildings and vacant lots of Newark. Neither parent attended college, but she was a star student. With a 2200 on her SATs, she expected to fit in at Harvard.

 Yet here she was at a lecture for a sociology course called, paradoxically, “Poverty in America,” as a classmate opened her laptop and planned a multicountry spring break trip to Europe. (Ms. Barros can’t afford textbooks; she borrows from the library.) On the sidewalks of Cambridge, students brush past her in their $700 Canada Goose parkas and $1,000 Moncler puffer jackets. (Ms. Barros saved up for two years for good boots.) On an elite campus, income inequality can be in your face.

 A professor once described how hardships become inscribed on one’s body, and Ms. Barros thought of her father, a janitor at a home for troubled boys, and the wrinkles carved in his face from worrying about money and her mother’s health. Majoring in sociology, she says, “has made me hyperaware of class differences here.” Read more at the New York Times.

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