Stop Signs and Cross-Roads: Barriers Faced by Multiethnic and First Generation Students in Higher Education

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Alexandria Persaud, University of Pennsylvania, USA


    This paper examines the way that the identity development of multi-ethnic and first generation students is limited in institutions of higher education. The use of racial formation and student integration frameworks to understand identity development complicates the narrative of racial and ethnic identities. Multi-ethnic students inherent experience an additional layer of identity negotiation while first-generation students struggle primarily with the emergence of a first-generation identity. When multi-ethnic and/or first-generation students attempt to navigate campus spaces they are often met with academic and social barriers that prevent them from finding a sense of belonging on campus, which is integral in healthy identity development. By using an intersectionality approach to look at the intersection of multiethnic and first-generation identities, I argue that the barriers these students face are compounded, an instance not exclusive to these particular identities. I also argue that previous solutions in addressing these inequities are not sufficient and university administrators have a responsibility to recognize the role that they have in shaping identity spaces on campus for all students that facilitate healthy identity development.