Higher education in the United States has a history dating back to the founding of Harvard College in 1636, and was originally reserved for the scions of the colonial aristocracy. Over time, public demand, industry need, and key pieces of federal legislation have unlocked the doors to higher education, which today serves a much broader audience. Still, educational access is not equipollent among the various segments of modern, American society. Students who are ethnic minorities, come from low-income families, and whose parents have not earned a college degree (first generation students) are less likely to matriculate and earn a Baccalaureate degree than Caucasian students, more affluent students, and those whose parents who hold an undergraduate degree. This disparity is even more pronounced in graduate education and leads to an inevitable underrepresentation of first generation students in the professoriate, where a master's degree or a doctorate is almost universally required. Truly, the route from first generation student to college professor is a challenging one, but some first generation students manage to transcend their backgrounds, earn terminal degrees, and take their places in the academy. These scholars are first generation academics. This research explored the supports and obstacles encountered by first generation college students who elect to pursue careers in the professoriate. Through elicited texts, personal interviews, and the analytical methods of grounded theory I was able to identify a Theory of the Development of First Generation Academics, which enumerates characteristics that are probable among first generation college students who blaze pathways to the professoriate.
|Adviser||Peter C. Mather|
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