Call for Participants

Paul Dean, a first-gen college graduate from a blue-collar family and working-class town in western New York State and an Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Justice at Ohio Wesleyan University, is conducting a research study approved by Ohio Wesleyan University’s Institutional Review Board (protocol #1807.005).

Lifting While You Rise: First-Gen Graduates Giving Back

I am seeking participants for a research study on first-generation college graduates (i.e. people who were the first members of their family to attend and graduate from college). Specifically, I am interviewing first-generation college graduates who are from working class backgrounds and now work in professional/white collar occupations that serve working class or poor communities in some way. I am especially interested to speak with first-gen grads from a variety of backgrounds (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, national origin, etc) and occupations. From social workers to community organizers; from artists to policy analysts addressing poverty; from engineers working on infrastructure projects in poor communities to doctors and nurses working in low-income neighborhoods, I want to learn from and share your stories!

The interviews are for a book project showing how first-gen graduates have climbed the class ladder while lifting up people around them in a wide range of occupations. I am interested in learning what you value about your working class roots, how you made it through college and into the professional world, how your roots have functioned both as a hurdle and an asset along the way, how your background shapes your professional work and middle class life, how it relates to other parts of your experience and identity, and more about your journey.

If you are interested in participating or if you have questions about this study, please email me at

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