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Assembly Series

A tradition of convening thought leaders since 1953

McKelvey School of Engineering

Being First: What It Means to Be the First in Your Family to Earn a College Degree

Thursday, December 17, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Virtual Event

Ambitious, intelligent and deserving students come from all backgrounds, but those whose parents did not finish college are far less likely to earn a college degree themselves. No one understands this better than these leaders who are also first-generation college graduates. Join them for a discussion about the power of supporting first-generation students in achieving their educational aspirations and potential.

Beverly Wendland, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic AffairsFeng Sheng Hu, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences and Lucille P. Markey Distinguished ProfessorDeanna Barch, Chair and Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Professor of Radiology, and Gregory B Couch Professor of PsychiatryMichael Aguilar, Class of 2021, moderator

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Arts & Sciences


Campus & Community



University Advancement
Event Contact

Anne Howard | annehoward@wustl.edu

Speaker Information
Part of the Power of Arts & Sciences event series
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Sarah Elgin

Sarah Elgin left a positive review 12/16/2020

In general I thought the program covered a lot of good points. But all of the speakers had the advantage of a supportive family. In my experience, many of the first-in-family students are a central figure in their families, whom family members rely on for help of various sorts. So this person, even if single with no children of their own, nonetheless spends time and energy on family needs, time that other WU students have for study, service, social life etc. Sometimes the family does not understand that their dependency is undermining the student, and some simple conversations about how demanding the Wash U curriculum is can help. But sometimes they do understand, but feel that they have no other recourse. The problem can be most acute for those students with family in St Louis. I don't know what the best methods are to help these students, but I think it is important for us to recognize the problem, and see what we can do.
Sarah C R Elgin, Professor Emerita, Biology.