First-generation Students

Last reviewed: 6/15/2023

These CPS providers have particular interest, experience, or advanced training in supporting first-generation students. Students are welcome to work with these providers if they wish.

First-Generation Students Team

Being the first in family to attend college presents a multitude of unique circumstances and challenges. While exciting and empowering, it can also present struggles with issues of finding role models and mentors, raise questions about identities, potentially disrupt existing relationships and affect feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. When working with others who are first generation, Debra attends to how these issues are negotiated and how they influence emotional wellbeing in the context of academia, work and interpersonal relationships. Debra is fluent in Spanish.

Anne was the first in her family to attend college. Through her interactions with first-gen students on campus, Anne has developed a deep appreciation for the strengths, as well as the many challenges along the way, of being the first in one’s family to attend college. At Columbia, Anne has collaborated with student groups and administrators to provide opportunities for first gen students to connect with each other and to gain support through hearing what other first-in-family students have experienced. She is committed to maximizing access to resources for all students.

Laura is a Mexican-American psychologist from the U.S.-Mexico border.  She has experience working with first-generation college students as they face the barriers of a new social environment, increased academic demands, and changing family dynamics.  Laura recognizes the tensions competing cultural demands can place on the college experience, and she hopes to support students as they navigate this process.  Laura is bilingual (English/Spanish).  

Doreen is a first-generation immigrant who grew up in Taiwan and New York. She worked for many years in a mental health clinic in Chinatown helping children and adolescents and their families who had difficulties bridging cultural and generational differences. She understands the challenges many students face in reconciling their families and cultures of origin with the more mainstream American college culture. Doreen is fluent in Mandarin.

Diana is a bilingual (Spanish/English), bicultural, first-generation college graduate. From her early work as a high school mentor to her years working at a large mental health clinic that primarily served recent immigrants, Diana has gained experience helping individuals navigate the transition and challenges that some students may face as first-generation college students. Diana recognizes the importance of providing each student with support that meets their needs while being respectful of their cultural context and identities.

The first in her family to graduate from college, Annette is a graduate of the Educational Opportunity Fund program at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Soon after graduation, Annette worked for the EOF program for four years at Cumberland County College in South Jersey. She served as a career specialist encouraging first-generation high school and college students to pursue their lifelong goals. Annette finds her work with first generation college students incredibly fulfilling. She recognizes the unique challenges these students face and is aware of the profound difference having support can make in the lives of these students. Annette is fluent in Spanish.

Support Groups

When there is sufficient student interest, we offer support groups and other special programs for first-generation as well as undocumented students. Visit the Support Groups page for a list of current in-person groups and virtual support spaces.

We also welcome hearing from student groups who would like to partner with us in developing new programs to serve the FLIP community. Contact Associate Director for Outreach Anne Goldfield for more info.