Students at Cleveland State University visit a table at a first-generation celebration in this archival photo. Credit: Cleveland State University

Exciting news: We’re launching a new series profiling first-generation college students and graduates. 

These first-person accounts will live on our Instagram account. We’ll publish them on the first Sunday of every month for the remainder of 2023. 

Some Ohio universities define first-generation as students whose parents’ highest education level is a high school degree or less. There are a few reasons why we’re profiling members of this group. 

First, this population is set to grow “rapidly” over the next few years “as the pipeline of first-time undergraduates is heavily weighted with first-gen students,” according to the Center for First Generation Success

It’s more than that, though. Being a first-gen student can be lonely. There can be lots of hurdles to navigate, and if you don’t have anyone in your life who has already navigated higher education, you might not know what to do or how to do things in the most optimal way. 

In fact, fewer first-gen students earn four-year degrees than their peers who aren’t the first in their families to go to college, and they have fewer financial resources, data from the center shows.  

Perhaps hearing from other Clevelanders who’ve crossed similar bridges can help. We can all learn from each other. Plus, our hope is that this series gives people a chance to connect with others who are or have been in a similar situation. We’re also looking to hold space for some type of real-life gathering later this year centering on this topic – more to come later on that! 

On the suggestion of Editor-in-Chief Lila Mills (another first-gen grad!), I took the helm for the first month’s feature. You can check it out on our Instagram account

Honestly, it’s a little weird to be writing about myself. One of my hopes in doing this is that it might help people see me as a human as well as a journalist. Being the first person in my family to go to college is something that has shaped my identity, and, in turn, my reporting. 

The remainder of the features will highlight other members of our community. We’re still looking to hear from more first-gen college students and graduates. If you’d like to potentially share your story, please fill out the form below. 

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Higher Education Reporter (she/her)
Amy, who’s worked in both local and national newsrooms for nearly a decade, previously covered higher education at Crain's Cleveland Business in partnership with the national nonprofit news organization Open Campus. A first-generation college graduate, Amy is committed to highlighting the voices of students in her coverage.

Audience Manager (she/her)
Camille, a Floridian turned proud Clevelander, comes from the automotive aftermarket industry, where she created content including articles, newsletters and podcasts as well as managed social media brands for various sects of the industry. She is excited to combine her professional expertise with her passion for civic engagement.