Emily Phelps

Emily Phelps
Professional Title
Assistant Director of Student Life & Leadership/Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at SUNY Oneonta

What does being a first-generation college student mean to you?

It means that as the first female in my family to go to college, I was doing something the women in my immediate family only had dreamed of doing. I was pursuing an education and becoming independent, able to hold my own and use my voice. There's a sense of pride in that experience not only for me but also for my family members.

What obstacles did you face in this context?

Not having parents that understood college applications and financial aid made the process a challenge. I also grew up poor so we couldn't afford a lot of the supports available at the time to help with the process; I ended up navigating a lot of it on my own or with help from my brother. If it wasn't for financial aid grants, I likely wouldn’t have been able to attend college. So that was stressful.

What advice do you have for other first-generation students?

Do your research -- pay attention to what you're signing up for and what it'll mean when you're out of college. Be PROUD of your accomplishments and try not to stress about the weight you may feel on your shoulders for being the first in your family to go to college.


Monroe Community College ('09), SUNY Geneseo ('11), and University at Buffalo ('13)
Sociology (Psychology Minor), Master’s in social work

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