Universiteit Leiden

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Being the first

Being the first is the Leiden University wide network for first generation students.

Are you the first in your family attending university? Would you like to meet fellow students who are, or have been in the same situation and understand the challenges you face? Do you want to enrich the academic community with your perspective? Then join Leiden University’s network for first generation students!

Building a university wide network

Within Leiden University there are several initiatives for first generation students, focussing on the transition from high school to university. With this network we are building a university wide network of first generation students to build a community in which we can meet each other and in which we can exchange experience and knowledge. We organise activities which not only focus on the first year of university but also cover topics such as internships or job search. First generation alumni and staff are welcome to join as well.

We define a first generation student as a student who is the first in their family to attend a Research University (WO) or a university of Applied Sciences (HBO), which means that they do not have a parent or caretaker who attended such education.

Help us gain more insight

To be able to gain insight into the experience, questions and needs of first generation students, we are conducting research on the specific needs and experiences of first generation students within Leiden University. This research is carried out by Melchior Deekman, student assistant of the project. Do you have suggestions to make the academic community more accessible for first generation students? Any needs that need to be addressed?

Contact Melchior by e-mail

Corijanne Slappendel

Project leader and former first generation student

Corijanne Slappendel

I started studying at Leiden University in 1991, but quit in 1992 for various reasons. After many regrets, I went back to university in 2006 and this time I finished my Research Master in 2013, and then became a study adviser to help other students finish their studies. Only then did I realise I had been a first generation student myself and that a lot of the reasons for quitting in 1992 had to do with that.

Melchior Deekman

Child of first-generation students and project assistant

Melchior Deekman

Both of my parents were first-generation students that had to figure out the higher education system themselves. Now, me and my sister enjoy their full support, both academically, financially, and socially. As a second-generation student, so to speak, I know firsthand how nice it can be to help. That is why I was highly motivated to participate in the Being the First project - to be able to help students that are not able to rely on their family members and facilitate spaces for them to create their own networks.

Thematic meetings

We hope to welcome you at our meetings, which include informative sessions and the opportunity to meet up with other first generation students, to share experiences and questions, both during and after the meetings!

Overview of meetings

We are building this network together, and need your input to make the meetings a success. Let us know what topics you would like to discuss, so we can include it in one of our future meetings. Drop us a line at firstgenstudents@bb.leidenuniv.nl


Do you have questions or want to get in touch? Send your message to firstgenstudents@bb.leidenuniv.nl or sign up for our mailing list to receive information about future events.

Being the First is made possible by the Leiden Empowerment Fund (LEF). In February 2021, the LEF was a farewell gift to our former Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker and is made possible by the donors of the Leiden University Fund (LUF). The LEF provides grants for first generation academics and this project for first generation students to build up a network, organize informative meetings and doing research on the specific experiences and needs of first generation students within Leiden University. The project for first generation students is supported and carried out by the Diversity & Inclusion Expertise Office.

Leiden Empowerment Fund

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