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First-Generation Students Find Support in SGA Group


January 11, 2022

First-generation graduate and medical students at PCOMFor some students entering medical or graduate school, they are the first person in their family to reach that education level. These students may find that they are at a disadvantage from their peers who can turn to family members to discuss things like effective studying strategies, financial aid, career planning and more. With this in mind, a group of first-generation students set out to provide a support system for their colleagues and founded a committee under the umbrella of the Student Government Association (SGA) to focus on these unique challenges. Since its creation last year, the First Generation Student Initiative has remained committed to advocating for academic equality through mentorship, community outreach and education.

Osteopathic medical student Anna Klunk (DO '24) currently serves as the committee chair and shares that when it comes to planning events, leadership looks to the group to guide them on what topics are most important to cover. “When we see that the group is confused about one topic or another,  we take that as our sign to act and plan an event around it,” said Ms. Klunk.

Recently, the group hosted an event in partnership with PCOM’s Office of Financial Aid to discuss the intricacy of financial aid and positive financial practices. Participants were able to share their questions with Brian Emery, assistant director of debt management, and he discussed helpful tips for first-generation students navigating financial aid.

PCOM grad students listen during a lecture.Another main tenant of the group is the focus on mentorship. Students from across academic programs, including osteopathic medicine, biomedical sciences, physician assistant studies and clinical psychology form mentorship “families” to discuss each program's unique needs and share relevant advice. First-year students are then encouraged to stay on as mentors and continue the tradition of sharing information. The group hopes to establish similar support networks on the PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia campuses.

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  • About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

    Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.

    For more information, contact:
    Daniel McCunney
    Associate Director, News and Media Relations
    Email: danielmc1@pcom.edu
    Office: 215-871-6304 | Cell: 267-449-1360

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