Dissertation

Transforming education abroad for first-generation students : leadership, student voice, and policy change

For many first-generation college students the opportunity to participate in education abroad is an important part of college success, achievement, and growth. However, the opportunity may feel unattainable for some. This dissertation examined interviews with selected CSU administrators, a self-study of my work, and first-generation college students at SF State before, during, and after participating in education abroad. Two research questions guided the inquiry: How do education abroad professionals and leaders perceive and respond to the needs and talents of first-generation college students and include them in education abroad programs? How do first-generation college students who participate in education abroad perceive the study abroad opportunity in higher education? Findings from the education abroad professionals demonstrated a strong interest in diversity for education abroad such that participants match campus demographics, including first-generation college students. The students’ perspectives aligned somewhat with the leaders’, although they provided examples drawn from personal navigation resources including stories of immigration, coming to college, developing a family abroad, and wanting to be an inspiration for others. This study shows how an examination of education abroad for first-generation college students can better support this high impact educational practice and promote stronger advocacy for first-generation college students across campuses.

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