BA, Kean University; MS, University of Arizona; MEd and EdD, Rutgers University
“I believe I can relate to the various demands our first-generation students face, whether professional, personal, or familial, which allows me to help them find solutions and better manage these demands as they continue with their graduate studies.”
“My experience as a first-generation college student was positive; however, I felt that I was left to figure things out on my own. Other than my sister, who was also enrolled in an undergraduate program at the same time I was, few family members could provide much insight about the process,” says Professor Samuel Fancera.
As director of the master’s program in educational leadership, he serves as an advisor to the program’s students—many of whom are first-generation graduate students. “I feel my formal educational experiences at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as a first-generation college student enable me to better advise and assist our students,” he says. “I believe I can relate to the various demands our first-generation students face, whether professional, personal, or familial, which allows me to help them find solutions and better manage these demands as they continue with their graduate studies,” he says.
Fancera says he has received many positive emails and comments from students about the positive impact he has had on them. “I think students appreciate the rapport we are able to build and the flexible approach we take in guiding them through the graduate degree process,” he adds. “Sometimes first-gen students perceive graduate school as a rigid process—I know I did. So, I work with them to change these perceptions. I remind them that I am here to help them succeed, which they appreciate.”
His main piece of advice? “Persist! Most first-gen students are likely to encounter many hurdles along the way, but my job is to help them to keep going.”
William Paterson University
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