two female legacy scholar students pose for photo

First Scholars Program

Your success as a first-generation college student is important to Westminster University. The valuable and unique talents, strengths, and story that you bring to Westminster have an important place in the campus community. Everyone's path to college is unique, but that does not mean that you are alone in your experiences. As you prepare yourself for who you want to be and what you want to accomplish after Westminster, you will receive hands-on support and devotion from faculty and staff mentors as well as your peers. There is no challenge or accomplishment that you have to face or celebrate on your own.

Applications for the First Scholar program are due June 1.

Low-income and/or traditionally underrepresented first-generation students can apply to receive mentor support and other program benefits through one of 2 initiatives:

First Scholars Program Benefits

  • Up to $500 each semester to spend on books for your classes
  • 6 academic credits that count toward graduation
  • One-on-one mentoring from professors who care about your success both in college and in life
  • Help preparing for graduate school or a career after graduation
  • Support from a network of friends who you'll meet before classes begin
  • A week-long, all-expense-paid Summer Experience program

Program Requirements

  • Be a first-generation college student (neither of your parents received a bachelor's degree from an institution in the United States).
  • Identify with one of the following traditionally underrepresented populations.
    • Student with disabilities
    • Student who identifies with a marginalized gender identity, gender expression, or sexuality
    • Student who is low-income (household income at or below $63,000/year)
  • Attend the First Scholars Summer Experience program August 11-16, 2024.

How To Apply

  • Be admitted to Westminster. If you have questions about your admissions status at Westminster University, contact the Admissions Office at 801.832.2200.
  • Complete the First Scholars application below.
  • Include contact information for someone who has agreed to write a letter of recommendation for you. The letter should speak to your personal and academic strengths.

The application for the 2024–25 school year will remain open until June 1, 2024, or until spots are filled. The First Scholars application committee will review applications on a rolling basis.


Strategies for Transfer, Excellence, Preparation, and Success

STEPS is the scholarly cohort program designed to help first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students enhance their experience at Westminster University. The STEPS program also helps students explore post-graduation opportunities after transferring from Salt Lake Community College.

Students participating in STEPS receive social, cultural, financial, and academic support; have faculty mentors; and meet regularly with their cohort throughout the academic year. The cohort serves as a peer support network where each student can encourage persistence and success among one another. Participants in STEPS also have the opportunity to achieve academic success by developing leadership skills and cultivating community in a supportive environment.

Benefits of Being a STEPS Student

  • Up to $500 each semester to spend on books for your classes
  • Eligibility for scholarships to help with tuition
  • Two academic credits that count toward graduation
  • Mentoring and advising from staff, professors, or community leaders who care about your success in college and in life
  • Support with academic discussions, writing, and research skills
  • Help preparing for graduate school or a career after graduation
  • Support from a social network you'll meet before classes start
  • Social and community events throughout the school year
  • A free summer experience orientation to Westminster with meals included
  • Access to outdoor education and leadership events

STEPS Summer Experience Program

The STEPS summer experience program is a week-long program where you learn strategies for academic success at Westminster University. You’ll get to know your future classmates and learn the value of having a group of friends to turn to for support.

Apply to STEPS

There are 10 spots available in the STEPS program for the 2023–24 school year. To be eligible for the program, you must be a first-generation college student (neither of your parents received a bachelor's degree from an institution in the United States). Additionally, you must be a traditionally underrepresented student, a student with a disability, and/or a low-income student (with a household income at or below $63,000/year). You must be able to attend the STEPS Summer Experience program August 11–16, 2024.

The application opens January 2024 for the 2023–24 school year, and will remain open until June 30, 2024, or until spots are filled. The STEPS application committee will review applications on a rolling basis.


First Scholars Mentor Program

Regardless of which initiative you are a part of, you will receive guidance from mentors who will help you navigate any challenges and opportunities you face, providing knowledge and experience that is critical to your success as a student.

A Supportive Community

Through annual fall seminar courses and ongoing civic and social events, you will create a strong community of peers that supports and encourages each other to achieve their goals. You aren’t just participating in a program—you are building a network that will support you no matter what you face. While you may be the first in your family to go to college, you are not alone at Westminster.


Student Accomplishments

All of your personal and academic goals are within reach. With the support of your mentors and peers, you will thrive both in and out of the classroom during your time at Westminster University. Some of the amazing things students in the First Scholars program have accomplished include:

  • Research engagement and publishing
  • Participating in national academic conferences
  • Speaking in front of the UN
  • Speaking at the Utah Capital on Multicultural Day
  • Receiving the Gilman Scholarship
  • Studying abroad in South Korea
  • Participated in the McNair Scholars Program
  • Presenting Research at Harvard University


female student with headwrap sitting at table

Hear from First Scholars

Six students walking together through the center of campus

“Legacy made Westminster feel like home.”


“Legacy means I will always have a group of people that I can rely on and who will help me face challenges.”


“I didn’t know I could gain 20 BFFs in just one week.”

Summer Experience Program

To build your connection with your First Scholars program peers and prepare yourself for academic success at Westminster, you will engage in a week-long orientation program. As you build relationships with your soon-to-be classmates, you will see the value of having a network of friends that you can turn to for support and bond with over your shared experiences.

Mock classes, meetings with advisors and financial aid staff members, and identity-development and trust-building exercises will help you prepare to succeed. You will also have the opportunity to meet the faculty and staff members who will be instrumental in your success at Westminster, acting as your champions and mentors.

In addition to on-campus meetings and activities, 3 days of the program will consist of an overnight trip to Southern Utah where you'll raft, hike, and camp with your peers. At Westminster, adventure and exploration are important both within and beyond the classroom walls.

Three students sitting outdoors during the Summer Bridge Program

Four students in a raft on water during the Summer Bridge Program

Support After Graduation

After you receive your diploma, faculty and staff support will remain unwavering. Students continue to receive assistance as you head off to further your education at graduate school or launch a career in your field. No matter your post-undergraduate educational and professional goals, anything is possible.

large group of first scholars posing at an event

In high school, I often felt like an outsider as the only Hispanic and international student in my classes. I experienced impostor syndrome, feeling like I could not be in high-level classes because I did not share a background with anyone. When I arrived at Westminster, the First Scholars program changed that. For the first time, I met other people who have also gone through the experience of being a minority and first-generation student. First Scholars gave us the chance to face those experiences, to share and learn from them, to recognize how important our origins are.

Juanita Galvis


Juanita Galvis

(’25), First Scholar

Support the First Scholars Program

Generous donors helped launch the First Scholars Program in 2016 to provide academic and social support for first-generation Westminster students. Today, the university hopes to endow First Scholars to ensure that first-generation students thrive at Westminster for years to come. Give in support of the First Scholars Program.

Give Now to the First Scholars Program