First-Gen to Policy Wonk: The Case Study of an Educator

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Many academics and university administrators are still not versed in the relevant experiences of first-generation (first-gen) college students, even if they themselves were first-gen. The reason for this is countless first-gen folks see their experiences as normal, not appreciating the nuances and complexities of being first. First-gens often start and experience college differently than students whose parents went to and graduated from college, without the benefit of handed-down advice on resources, timelines, and unwritten rules—the hidden curriculum. Yet, these apparent “disadvantages” are the very strengths first-gens bring to the academy. Through a counternarrative and testimonio approach, this chapter will draw attention to the strengths and opportunities first-gens bring to universities. The chapter will also explicitly highlight borderlands pedagogy as a means to discuss what we, as educators and public administrators, can do to guide these journeys. First-gens are essentially starting their journey in an unequal and increasingly crowded field where the lack of social and cultural capital adds extra barriers (borders). Attached to this race and further intersections of class, gender, sexualities, and abilities, and a college degree may seem like an unreachable destination, but it is not! Through our volume’s Lilliberation framework, the chapter concludes with ideas to ensure first-gen success, starting in our (public administration) classroom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStreet-Level Public Servants
Subtitle of host publicationCase Studies for a New Generation of Public Administration
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003817475
ISBN (Print)9781032417516
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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