About First Scholars® Program

Our mission is to dramatically improve the graduation rate of first-generation college students and to prepare each scholar for a life with self-awareness, success, and significance.

First Scholars' comprehensive program was created to specifically address the holistic development of first-generation students throughout their college experience. Our program delivers multiple levels of support, including a full-time program coordinator and peer mentors to help First Scholars address the unique challenges first-gen students face.

Each year the First Scholars Program accepts 20 students to participate in this special cohort. Scholars selected to the program will receive an annual $5,000 scholarship over their four year experience at the University of Memphis, for a total of $20,000 in scholarship funding. In addition to the scholarship, students will receive a number of social, academic and leadership activities designed to guide scholars through key transitions pivotal to their success.

The First Scholars staff works with each Scholar as they move through our Steps To Success™. This framework focuses on an annual theme and targeted learning objectives that guide First Scholars through the key transitions pivotal to their college success. Below you will find a rough outline of the programming components covered in each year of the First Scholars Program:

FRESHMAN YEAR: Connecting to Campus

  • During their first year, the First Scholars live together in the First Scholars Living-Learning Community, located in the brand new Centennial Place Residence Hall.
  • As part of the living-learning community, the first-year First Scholars cohort will take a common course, ACAD 1100, as part of their cohort experience during the fall semester.
  • Matched with an upper class First Scholar Peer Mentor.
  • Assess personal strengths and skills to determine if your major is a good fit through career workshops.
  • Explore student organizations on campus.
  • Meet regularly with the Program Coordinator to develop an Individual Strategic Plan (ISP) for success.

SOPHOMORE YEAR: Optimizing the College Experience

  • Attend a retreat at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.
  • Apply leadership development skills through a series of leadership workshops.
  • Matched with an upper class First Scholar Peer Mentor.
  • Continue participation in a student organization
  • Participate in the national service project with other First Scholars around the country.
  • Connect with other First Scholars through social events and semester service project.
  • Meet regularly with the Program Coordinator to develop an Individual Strategic Plan (ISP) for success.

JUNIOR YEAR: Expanding Career and Community Opportunities

  • Attend a retreat at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.
  • Select a Faculty/Staff mentor.
  • Continue membership or leadership in a student organization.
  • Serve in a Pay-It-Forward position within First Scholars.
  • Participate in professional development workshops to enhance leadership skills through giving back to the First Scholars Program.
  • Connect with other First Scholars through social events and semester service project.
  • Begin planning for capstone Individual Service Project.
  • Meet monthly with the Program Coordinator to develop an Individual Strategic Plan (ISP) for success.

SENIOR YEAR: Transitioning to the Future

  • Attend and lead the freshmen retreat in August as well as the spring retreat for all scholars.
  • Connect with an alumni mentor.
  • Participate in Real Life 101 workshops to prepare for life after college.
  • Complete capstone Individual Service Project.
  • Connect with other First Scholars through social events.
  • Meet monthly with the Program Coordinator to develop an Individual Strategic Plan (ISP) for success.