Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International and Multicultural Education (IME)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Manuel Alejandro Perez


For the past 40 years, first generation college students have been the topic of scholarly research aiming to improve college persistence models. Because of the shifting ethnic demographics, an increase in underrepresented minority students continues to diversify the population of first generation college students. The debate ensues when existing dominant persistence models fail to address the multidimensional challenges students from underrepresented backgrounds experience when transitioning to college. The focus of dominant persistence models is in encouraging first generation students to assimilate by leaving their old identity to gain a new identity and learning the “ins and outs” of how to be a successful college student (Tinto & Engle, 2008; London, 1992). Alternative persistence models focus on addressing how the greater campus culture can help first generation college students’ transition through validation of their experiences and empowering utilize their cultural attributes to build upon the existing campus structure (Benmayor, 2002; Delgado Bernal, Burciaga & Erbstein, 2012; Delgado Bernal, Burciaga, & Flores Carmona, 2012; Espino, Vega, Rendon, Ranero, & Muniz, 2012; Nora, 2001; Rendon, 2006; Solórzano , Villalpando, & Oseguera, 2005; Terenzini, Springer, Yaeger, Pascarella, & Nora, 1996; Yosso, 2005).

This project will create a training curriculum that engages current students who are part of a scholarship program to lead an orientation of incoming first generation students from underrepresented backgrounds. Utilizing testimonio, critical pedagogy and community cultural wealth as theoretical frameworks, this project focuses on the strengths that first generation college students from underrepresented minority backgrounds bring. This project also reflects on structural challenges to identify strategies for success. The three-module lesson plan provides an example of how to create spaces that encourage students to bring their authentic selves to the university, and to recognize cultural attributes that will empower them to successfully transition to college.