Penn will host the 1vyG conference — the largest conference for first-generation, low-income Ivy League students — this weekend.
The conference — which will run from Feb. 24-26 — has numerous events slated for this weekend, which is expected to attract hundreds of students. The conference takes place annually on a different Ivy League campus. Penn previously hosted the conference in 2018, which featured a speech from former Penn President Amy Gutmann.
The theme for the 2023 conference is “opening up the FGLI identity,” 1vyG Committee co-chair and College senior Ashwarya Devason told The Daily Pennsylvanian in September when Penn was chosen to host the conference.
The conference is set to include a student mixer on the first night, a keynote speech from author of "How Girls Achieve" and assistant professor at Northwestern University Sally Nuamah, and an opportunities fair.
“I'm very excited about this. It's really a space for students to share stories and experiences,” College senior Victoria Garcia, one of the co-chairs of the conference, said.
The conference also will provide participants with the chance to learn more about their peers' experiences at their respective universities. Sunday will feature “fire talks,” TED Talk-style presentations that are led by students on a FGLI-related topic of their choice. The talks are intended to provide students the opportunity to discuss topics that are not addressed during the guided conversations planned for the weekend.
The Trailblazer Award — an award recognizing an individual who has made significant contributions to the FGLI community — will be presented on the second day of the conference.
Despite the inclusive nature of the FGLI classification, organizers in the community have described challenges in spreading awareness of who might fall under the identity.
“It’s a twofold definition: we want to have a conversation about who’s included and also make it more inclusive for people in edge cases,” Garcia said. “You can't tell somebody they're a part of it. They choose whether or not to identify with it. Presenting the identity in such a way that it feels open and visible is important.”
Penn is partnering with EdMobilizer, a social impact collective of FGLI students, graduates, and professionals, in planning the conference. EdMobilizer has hosted the conference since its conception at Brown University in 2015.
In addition to giving students the opportunity to discuss their FGLI identity, administrators who work with FGLI students are also expected to attend the conference and share their experiences.
“We’ve typically brought together 300 to 450 folks across students and administrators, so you get a lot of grassroots discussions between students and administrators who are directly responsible for being able to empower first-gen students,” Joseph Vukel, one of the EdMobilizer organizers helping with the event, said.
Much of what is planned for the conference is intended to fulfill one of 1vyG’s central goals: “bringing together a group of students sharing an identity,” according to Vukel.
“For me it’s about the community and the people," Viet Nguyen, an organizer with EdMobilizer, said. "Some of my closest friends inside of Brown and outside of Brown are from 1vyG. It’s a great community to be a part of."
Garcia encourages people of all backgrounds to attend the event and learn more about the FGLI experience.
“That was me freshman year, wondering if I should be a part of this space,” Garcia said. “I think it is worthwhile to be a part of the conversations you are interested in. If you are interested in this conversation, this is a great place to be heard.”