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A group of students smiling in front of a whiteboard in a Yale SOM classroom.

We Needed a Space for First-Generation and Low-Income Students. So We Made One.

Kimberly Rosa-Perez ’24 and Stephanie Kim ’24 share what inspired them to establish Yale SOM’s First-Generation/Low-Income Club.

We are excited to announce a new student-led initiative aimed at supporting students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds: Yale SOM’s First-Generation/Low-Income (FLI) Club, which we founded in February. Born out of our own experiences, this club recognizes the need for targeted support and resources for every student, regardless of their financial or family circumstances.

Our journey began from a shared experience: navigating the complexities of business school as FLI students. We met in 2022, shortly before arriving at SOM, through QuestBridge Graduate School Match, a program that provides MBA scholarships for students from low-income backgrounds. Though nearly a fifth of our SOM peers come from first-generation or low-income backgrounds, we soon realized that this significant demographic lacked a dedicated group. We've also felt firsthand the isolation that comes from not seeing our own lived experiences reflected by our peers. That reality inspired us to establish a club devoted to addressing FLI-specific challenges and the nuances of navigating an MBA program as FLI students—a reality that often goes unseen but is deeply felt in academic, social, and professional settings.

Two students smiling in front of a blackboard in a classroom
A group of students posing outside a brick building
Left: First-Generation/Low-Income Club founders Kimberly Rosa-Perez ’24 and Stephanie Kim ’24. Right: The first community social organized by the club.

We want to build the FLI community at SOM so that we can support each other and connect with peer groups across Yale and at other business schools. With the FLI Club, we aim to bridge the gap between students of different economic backgrounds by providing resources and creating a network of support that champions inclusivity, belonging, and understanding. In engaging with over 50 SOM students from FLI backgrounds, we’ve found this club to be a safe space to talk about overcoming financial inaccessibility, building towards generational wealth, and navigating cultures of extreme privilege. 

These are some of the initiatives we’re already working on:

Mentorship. Partnering with the SOM Alumni Relations and Career Development Offices, we aim to set up mentorship programs that pair students with successful alumni, fostering networks that support both personal and professional growth.

Financial advocacy and education. We host workshops and share resources on financial literacy—critical for managing the cost of an MBA and strategizing to build generational wealth.

Community building. Our events, ranging from social mixers to small group discussions, build strong bonds among FLI students and allies within the broader Yale community. We hope to promote unity and shared understanding by coming together and sharing our stories.

Giving back. We are passionate about extending our reach beyond current students. Through initiatives with the Admissions Office and local high schools, we aim to mentor prospective students, demystifying the path to and through business school.

The FLI Club is more than just an organization for us—it is a movement, and a small step towards a more inclusive, understanding, and supportive SOM. We envision this group not just as a space for current students, but also as a lasting community that evolves to meet the needs of future generations. As we prepare to graduate, we are excited for our peers to continue leading this charge, ensuring that every student, regardless of their background, can succeed and thrive. By creating these foundational supports, we hope to ensure that the pathway to leadership is equitable and accessible to all, truly reflecting SOM’s mission to educate leaders for business and society.