Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Education Policy, Planning, and Administration
Heather Schugar, Ph.D.
Lesley Siegel, Ph.D.
Kuhio Walters, Ph.D.
First-generation students make up on average 22% of college students on college campuses and this number continues to grow (Chen & Carroll, 2005). While the enrollment of first-generation college students in higher education institutions continues to increase, first-generation college students have a higher attrition rate, dropout rate, and lower graduation rates than other groups (Gibson & Slate, 2010; Pascarella et al., 2003). Additionally, the majority of the literature discussing first -generation college students, views them from a deficit lens and focuses on what first-generation students lack as they enter college. This study focused on the journeys of first-generation college students and employed Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth theory and Billings and Tate’s Critical Race theory to view first-generation journeys through a strength-based lens. This qualitative study examined the experiences of first-generation college graduates utilizing the photovoice methodology. Utilizing the photovoice method, first-generation graduates collected photographic data and provided narrative texts to their photographs to discuss their journeys to college completion. Five themes emerged regarding factors that contributed to first-generation students’ college completion: (a) community, (b) resilience/grit, (c) all eyes on me, (d) involvement, and (e) identity affirmation. In addition, two themes emerged regarding factors that were barriers to first-generation student completion: (a) money, and (b) sense of belonging.
Pantoja Williams, Christina, "Tell Me Your Story: Utilizing Photovoice to Explore the Journeys of First-Generation College Graduates" (2023). West Chester University Doctoral Projects. 190.