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The First Generation Civil Rights Fellowship Program, or FirstGEN, is a paid summer program for undergraduate students who are the first in their immediate families to attend college and who intend to pursue careers in social justice. Our mission is to identify and support first generation college students as they emerge into tomorrow’s social justice leaders. 

Fellows receive hands-on civil rights experience, participate in weekly advocacy training and professional development seminars, and join a growing community of emerging leaders in the FirstGEN Alumni Network. 

Fellows are placed with the national Lawyers’ Committee and its partners at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJCCatholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). Applicants should be dedicated to pursuing careers in the social justice field a possess a track record of public service through volunteer work or community service. People of color, women, LGBTQ, or other minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.   

For more information, email us at [email protected]  

FirstGEN Fellows Class of 2021

Natalie Tran

Middlebury College

Natalie Tran is a rising junior at Middlebury College where she majors in political science and education studies. She is on track to earn a secondary teaching license in social studies. Prior to being a FirstGen Fellow, Natalie was an orientation intern at her college where she worked towards building an inclusive community that welcomed students of all backgrounds and identities.

Claudia Theagene

State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Claudia Theagene is a recent graduate of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She majored in political science and minored in both legal and Africana studies. During her college career, she was a part of the National Black Law Student Association, Residence Life and Student Government. In these roles, she fellowshipped with the local and campus community.

Sonia Paz Canton

Georgetown University

Sonia Paz Canton is currently a junior at Georgetown University, majoring in culture and politics with a concentration in human rights and a certificate in diplomacy. Upon completion of her degree, Sonia hopes to attend law school to better understand how to serve those in her community, specifically immigrants like her, through legal systems. Prior to FirstGEN, she interned with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and was placed in the Office of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard to better understand legislative and policy work.

Rabiya Ismail

Tufts University

Rabiya Ismail is a rising senior at Tufts University double majoring in political science and English with a minor in peace and justice studies. Raised in Orlando, Florida, she has often found herself juggling her low-income and Pakistani identity and experiences in a predominantly white and wealthy environment. She is passionate about issues pertaining to immigration, homelessness, and inequity in education. She strives for intentionality, which means including diversity, equity, and inclusion in every aspect of learning. Prior to FirstGEN Fellows, she interned at Volunteer Lawyers Project, a pro-bono legal organization, to research racial disparities in bankruptcy chapter choice and address the impact of reverse redlining on Black and Brown populations in the Greater Boston Area.

Nghi Lam

Colorado College

Nghi Lam is a junior at Colorado College majoring in feminist and gender studies. Before FirstGen, Nghi worked at Yum Yum Morale, an anti-racism workplace consultancy as project manager. She also speaks Mandarin, Vietnamese, likes to write poems, and hopes to one day be a certified scuba diver. Through FirstGEN, she hopes to connect with Asian American mentors and empower the Asian American community.