What is it like to be the first in your family to earn a college degree?

Know That You Are Worthy

“Know That You Are Worthy will be a gift to the field ranging from high school and college access programs to colleges/universities and beyond. It is often difficult to balance multiple audiences—in this case, current students, as well as instructors and administrators—but Rodríguez does this quite well. This text is practical but also research-driven. I would strongly encourage that programs like AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and TRIO (programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act), as well as the many first-generation-only seminars across institutions incorporate this book into their curriculum. Many first-generation students will see themselves in these narratives and will feel empowered. Come for the stories but stay for the recommendations!”

– La’Tonya Rease Miles

In Know That You Are Worthy: Stories from First-Generation College Graduates, 31 alumni who were the first in their family to obtain a college degree share their experiences in college. These stories illuminate how the struggles of first-generation students are primarily due to a combination of multiple social inequities that are ignored, reinforced, and perpetuated by exclusive college systems. These authors speak directly to current and future first-generation students, offering tips and advice for success, along with powerful words of encouragement in their emotionally rich narratives. College faculty and staff are challenged to shift their perspectives from viewing these students from a deficit lens or attempting to make them more like continuing-generation students, to instead having deeply honest confrontations with the pedagogies and structures of college, which are frequently so ingrained that they are invisible, and that cater to continuing-generation students, who are often predominantly white, middle- and upper-class. Colleges can create a more equitable system in which universities are enriched by the wisdom, experiences, and talents of first-generation students while promoting a generative culture for all students.

View Book

*If you have small booksellers in your community, consider contacting them to order the book for purchase.

Panel Discussions

These two Zoom panel discussions welcome several contributors from the book. Panelists discuss their experiences as first-generation college students, including issues related to belonging, triumph, overcoming, exclusion, striving, and more.

21 April 2023

David Hernández, PhD
Kevin Wright, PhD
Glynis Boyd-Hughes, MEd
Adj Marshall, MA

23 May 2023

Sean Richardson, MA
T. Mark Montoya, PhD
Mytien Nguyen, MSc
Kamina Richardson, MSOD

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