First Generation Faculty & Staff
 
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The Importance of
First Generation Faculty & Staff

Brian BridgesWriting about the impact of being a first generation college student is a difficult task for me because it is a deeply personal story that for so long I was somewhat embarrassed to tell. However, over time I have learned that there is no shame in overcoming adversity and maximizing one’s potential. I hope my story can serve to inspire others who share this background.

Research, as well as my own personal experiences, reveals that first generation children are often from single-parent homes, low socioeconomic neighborhoods, and attend schools that too often do an inadequate job of preparing them for the academic and social rigors of college life. While I attended good public schools in South Carolina, I was definitely a product of the first two criteria. …Additionally, there was only one college graduate to emulate in the rural community where I was reared and I remember young playmates expressing doubt that I could fulfill my lofty dreams because no one from that area had ever achieved significant success. I can also recall the hopelessness on the faces of young men and women who had witnessed the failure of the educational system in equipping them for success in a changing society.

Blessed with intellectual curiosity at an early age, I was placed in a gifted and talented program in 4th grade and this likely had the most significant impact on my life. For the first time I was placed in the classroom with peers who challenged me and opened my mind to intellectual possibilities. It was these peers, some of whom became lifelong friends and all of whom had parents or older siblings with college experience, who inspired me to rise above the life that awaited me in rural SC armed with only a high school diploma. There were others like these peers, who unknowingly helped to maintain my steady academic course, throughout my high school, college and graduate school pursuits. For example, my fourth grade teacher was my first and most powerful male role model to this day, or the college admissions counselor who came to my home to help me complete the complicated FAFSA which was above the understanding of my family who so desperately wanted to help, as well as the college career counselor who provided the right advice when I was floundering after receiving my bachelor’s degree. These are but some of the important people in my life that have assured my success and helped me overcome the educational deficiencies I might have faced as a youth. For first generation students these navigators are so very important, and I would say necessary to their success. This is why I and others like me who have beaten the odds cannot be ashamed to tell our story, and why we have an obligation to help navigate the paths of those students who are just beginning their journey. There are few ways to leave a legacy greater than this.


Brian K. Bridges, PhD
Vice Provost for Diversity, Access and Equity

 

First Gen, Defined

Though definitions of First Generation vary, the interpretation adopted by U.S. Department of Education TRIO programs was used in developing this web page. According to TRIO, students are considered first generation if neither parent graduated from a four year college or university.

 First Generation Students @ Ohio University

According to the Foundations of Excellence Final Report, First Generation students comprised approximately 29% of Ohio University's 2005-2006 first-year class.

First Generation Faculty/Staff @ OU


University College Advising Session

Six hundred forty-two faculty and staff responded to a recent survey about first generation status. Of these respondents, 277 (43%) indicated that they are First Gen.

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