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Framing First Generation Student Experiences

March 21, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Sonja Ardoin, PhD, will present “First Gen is Not My Only Identity: Framing First Generation Student Experiences.” This presentation will be held in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center auditorium, followed by a reception in the Stone Center Hitchcock Multipurpose room.

First generation student status is receiving more attention in higher education. Institutions are creating programs, centers and services to aid first generation students in their navigation of the many systems within the academy. While this progress is to be applauded, it should also be recognized that this identity is complex and is only one of the multiple dimensions of identity that students bring with them to college.

For Ardoin, being a first generation college student is a salient dimension of her identity. She is the first person from her rural, farming family to pursue higher education, a fact that created both opportunities and challenges. She also identifies as a white, Cajun, working class, Catholic, cisgender woman who is temporarily able. In this session, she will share her story of being first gen—through all three of her academic degrees and eleven years as a higher education administrator and faculty member—and why she chooses to study others who carry this same identity. It is her hope that others can see some of themselves in her story and the research data, while also considering how each first generation student has a unique identity which frames how they experience higher education.

Ardoin is learner, educator and facilitator. She originates from “Cajun country” and is proud of her first generation to PhD educational journey, including degrees from LSU, Florida State and NC State. Ardoin grew up poor and working class and still identifies as blue collar in many ways. Ardoin’s higher education career path includes experience in student activities, leadership development, community engagement, fraternity and sorority life, student conduct and academic advising. She is currently serving as program director and clinical assistant professor of Higher Education at Boston University. Her research interests include college access, social class identity in higher education, student and women’s leadership, and professional pathways and career strategies in student affairs. She authored “The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career” in 2014 and is currently working on her second book, focusing on class identity and college access.

Contact Maria Erb, graddiversity@unc.edu, for more information.

This presentation is sponsored by Diversity & Student Success, The Finish Line Project and Carolina Firsts.


March 21, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Stone Center Auditorium
Stone Center
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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