Skip to main content

Kessler Presidential Scholars Program

Kessler Scholars gather outside of Toni Morrison Hall at coin presentation event with Fred Wilpon

The Kessler Presidential Scholars Program supports a diverse community of first-generation college students at Cornell University. 

"Prior to being a Kessler Presidential Scholar, I hadn’t explored my identity as a first generation student and what it really means. Having a support group where we all have this in common has been truly enriching to my experience as a college student, as I’m a lot more in touch with my own identity, and I understand the power of my own identity." 

- Alejandra Gonzalez '23

The Kessler Presidential Scholars Program at Cornell University provides four years of support to exceptional Cornell students—who are among the first in their family to attend college—helping them achieve their dreams through academic, financial, and social support. The Kessler Scholars are a close-knit community. Alongside Kessler professional staff committed to their success, Cornell Kessler Scholars discover how to be their best and explore how their Cornell degree empowers them to shape the future.  

Recently, the Kessler Scholars Program, a comprehensive, proven program for first-generation students that uses research and real-time student feedback to transform the first-generation experience with both scholarship and wrap-around community support beyond funding—formally expanded to Johns Hopkins University, Queens College, St. Francis College, and Syracuse University.

A National Network of Partner Schools

The Kessler Scholars Program (McGuire Scholars Program) at Cornell University is part of the national Kessler Scholars Collaborative along with Johns Hopkins University, Queens College, Saint Francis College, Syracuse University, and the University of Michigan. Together, these schools are rethinking how to support first-generation college students as they navigate higher education. Students who join the Kessler Scholars Program are part of a powerful network of first-generation leaders, connected across multiple institutions throughout their undergraduate college experience and beyond. 

2021 Kessler Presidential Scholars Events

  • February 15 Identity Workshop (Option 1- both cohorts)
  • February 18 Identity Workshop (Option 2- both cohorts)
  • February 19 Kessler Scholars Collaborative Celebration Featuring Guest Speaker Wes Moore event (Both cohorts)
  • March 1 MLK Event Feturing Guest Speaker Ijeoma Oluo (Both cohorts)
  • March 17 Creating & Sustaining your Personal Board of Directors (Both cohorts attend)
  • March 18 “Impostor Syndrome”: Empowerment Through Vulnerability (Both cohorts)
  • April 28 Unpacking My Money Story, Healing Our Collective Trauma (Optional- both cohorts)