National Expert to Speak About First-Gen Students

Dr. Sarah Whitley
Dr. Sarah Whitley

Dr. Sarah Whitley will offer the Arkansas Tech University community a campus-wide presentation entitled “First-Generation Student Engagement Strategies” from 1-2:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, in Doc Bryan Student Services Center Lecture Hall.

The presentation will also be available virtually at

Whitley is vice president of the Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation. She has been a member of the center’s staff since 2017.

Author of several widely-referenced reports on first-generation students, including two landscape studies and fact sheets with national data about first-generation students, Whitley oversaw the creation of the Journal for First-Generation Student Success. It was the first academic peer-reviewed journal with a specific focus on first-generation student experiences and outcomes.

Whitley’s work focuses on issues of inequality, academic motivation and decision-making, teaching and learning, the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students and university presidency and board governance.

A first-generation college graduate, Whitley holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in higher education from the University of Virginia, a Master of Education degree in college student personnel from James Madison University and a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Longwood University.

Whitley’s appearance is part of Arkansas Tech’s observance of National First-Generation College Student Celebration Week.

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