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Sociology Opportunities for Undergraduate Leaders (SOUL) is the first department-level leadership program for first-generation college students at the University of Michigan. Housed in Sociology, they recognize that first-generation college students at the University of Michigan face unusual social, academic, and financial challenges.  But they also find that such students possess a unique set of qualifications and capabilities: curiosity, conscientiousness, persistence, risk-taking – in a word, grit.  These are the characteristics of leaders. The Department of Sociology has created a program designed to cultivate and support their first-generation leaders in Sociology.

BLI Partnership

Since its inception, BLI has been partnered with SOUL to enhance their students’ leadership development and to fund up to five student research positions each year. SOUL students join as BLI Members, participating in the leadership lab and working with other BLI students on a team project to identify problems, innovate solutions, and improve their ideas. Many SOUL students have gone on to participate in BLI’s Capstone program, attend access opportunities, and work as program assistants and peer facilitators for the Institute.

As the University of Michigan continues its plan to diversify its student body, the unique experiences of first-generation students promise to become increasingly salient. Despite the many challenges first-generation undergraduates face, SOUL students have proven themselves to be true leaders in BLI and across campus.

Learn More

Learn more about the opportunities SOUL students receive, who is eligible, and how to apply on Sociology's SOUL web-page or contact,
Dr. Matthew Sullivan, SOUL Program Director (
Sneha Strodel, Undergraduate Coordinator Sociology (