A group stands behind large letters that read

Credit: Jim Burger for Johns Hopkins University


JHU recognizes its first-generation, limited-income community

Held on the anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965, FLI Day returned to Johns Hopkins University Nov. 8 with food, activities, and networking events

Johns Hopkins University joined hundreds of colleges across the country on Nov. 8 in recognizing "FLI Day," a celebration of higher education's first-generation and/or limited-income (FLI) students. This year's festivities included a full day of food, dancing, networking events, and giveaways, all under the theme of "Elevate and Celebrate: The FLI Way."

"We want the students and staff who identify as FLI to know that this is home and that they are completely welcome," said Modinat Sanni, FLI's associate director of programming. "We have [FLI Day] literally in the middle of the campus so that everyone knows that we are FLI-proud and/or a FLI friend. It's a celebration for everyone and all their achievements."

Video credit: Roy Henry / Johns Hopkins University

Approximately 30% of current Hopkins undergraduates identify as first-generation and/or limited-income, in part thanks to Michael Bloomberg's historic $1.8 billion donation in support of undergraduate financial aid in 2018, which allowed the university to permanently commit to need-blind admissions. Since then, Hopkins has also formally ended legacy preferences in admissions and launched the FLI Network, creating more opportunities and support for the university's growing FLI community.

First celebrated by JHU in 2019, FLI Day (also known as National First-Generation College Student Day) is held every year on Nov. 8, the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Besides activities and refreshments, FLI Day also gives students the opportunity to network and learn more about the resources available to them. Offices like Hopkins Connect, the Life Design Lab, and Student Disability Services all had booths at Wednesday's main celebration, demonstrating ways that FLI students can enhance their education, connections, and resume.

This year's festivities also included the creation of FLI shim mirrors. Attendees were invited to paint 12-inch shims, or pieces of wood, that reflected their own life and experiences. Afterward, the pieces were assembled into a "mirror" meant to represent the FLI community.

"These mirrors are then placed in different places on campus," Sanni explained. "The idea is that when FLI students come to a university like Johns Hopkins, they can see themselves reflected not just in the people but also in the physical things that are around the building."

Senior Alyssa Kattan, a FLI student who attended FLI Day, said the celebration as a success.

"Today's turnout has blown me away. The energy is so high," she said. "Being approached by so many friends and fellow students that I didn't even know were FLI and feeling suddenly a lot closer to them has been really tender. ... I'm feeling really proud right now to be a FLI student."