Stories of Being First – OSU Faculty, Staff, and Admin Oral Histories


First Generation OSU Faculty, Staff, and Administrators

During this academic year, the OMA is collaborating on a special project with two other OSU Library departments to showcase existing oral histories as well as gather more stories of OSU’s first generation students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

About First Generation Students

“I think we bring about a unique perspective, and this goes back to what I was saying in terms of the challenge, right, if our challenge is how do we balance all these competing expectations, between family, between school, between your own work, and your own goals — I think that first generation students bring a very different perspective of life, of experience. I also think that they bring a sense of value for education that other people might take for granted…I think because of our struggle, because we had to really figure things out differently, we bring an appreciation, we bring an appreciation for the sense of sacrifice that it actually takes to be here and to make it through to graduation.” ~ Susana  Rivera-Mills

“…when I think about first generation students and them having to find a way when a way appears not to be possible, that requires sort of this creative approach to the world of being able to figure, find a door, when it seems to be this sort of blank space. And so, when first generation students are in situations with others, they can help them to see possibilities that might not otherwise be there…I think with first generation students one of the things that they can bring to an institution that wouldn’t be there otherwise is hope. Because it takes a huge leap to believe that something that you’ve not seen is possible, you know, sort of this faith in the unseen. And so, oftentimes first generation students will come from an environment where, at least when I think about my own, where at least my life was a life of sort of social isolation, where you feel like sort of your community isn’t cared for or who you are isn’t valued, but you believe that you do have value, you do believe that a better world for yourself and others is possible. And I think that there is something incredible and something really powerful about having that element be present in an institution.” ~ Larry Roper

First Generation Stories in the Archives

In May 2016, the OMA recorded and made accessible a panel presentation “Celebrating FIRST! Students Sharing their Stories” featuring six OSU students who identify as first generation college students.

In 2015 and 2016, the OSU U-Engage course “What am I Doing Here?! Being First in the Family at College” included an assignment for students to interview first generation OSU faculty, staff, and administrators, which they then dontated to the archives to include as part of the Voices of Oregon State University Oral History Collection. Although the interviews are not available online, they are accessible if you come to the SCARC reading room, and below is information about the interviewees.

Interviewees Featured as Part of the Project

Natchee Barnd (00:39:37) is an Ethnic Studies assistant professor at Oregon State University. He is a comparative and critical ethnic studies scholar, interested in the intersections between ethnic studies, cultural geography, and indigenous studies. His research focuses on issues of race, space, and indigenous geographies.

Angela Batista (00:35:03) joined Oregon State University as the Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life in June 2015 and was named as Interim Chief Diversity Officer in February of 2016. Prior to joining Oregon State, she served as Dean of Students at the University of Southern Indiana. In the autumn of 2017, she was named special adviser to the president for diversity and inclusion at Champlain College.

Ed Ray (00:49:48) became the 14th president of Oregon State University on July 31, 2003. During his 15 years as president, Oregon State has become an internationally recognized public research university and has continued to expand the excellence, scope and impact of its academic, research and outreach services.

Susana Rivera-Mills (00:22:30) serves as the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. She previously served as Executive Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of Spanish Linguistics and Diversity Advancement. She arrived at OSU fall of 2007 and, since then, has been involved in developing mentoring and leadership programs for faculty and students, community partnerships, student engagement and success strategies, advancing diversity at OSU and in higher education, internationalization, engaged research, and promoting equity and inclusion.

Larry Roper (00:23:26) is a Professor within the Sociology Program in the School of Language, Culture and Society and is the Coordinator of the College Student Services Administration program as well as the undergraduate Social Justice Minor at Oregon State University. Previously, he served as Vice Provost for Student Affairs from 1995-2014.

Allison Hurst (00:54:17) is an associate professor in the School of Public Policy at OSU. Her research interests focus on issues around class inequality, higher education and social mobility, school to work transitions of college graduates, social welfare policy, and higher education policy.

Daniel Newhart (00:34:56) is Oregon State University’s Assistant Vice Provost, Student Affairs and Director, Student Affairs Research, Evaluation and Planning. One of his research interests is to better understand higher education, be it evaluation, assessment or research, as well as the larger political contexts of these spaces of inquiry. He is also interested in novel approaches to the measurement of student learning inside and outside of the classroom in the university context.

Dwaine Plaza (00:23:44) is the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University. He is also a professor and coordinator of the Sociology Program for the School of Public Policy. His research interests focus on Caribbean studies, migration and settlement, as well as race and ethnic relations.

Marilyn Stewart (00:19:47) works as an Academic Advisor for the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University. Having liberal arts experience at OSU, she seeks to make a difference in students’ lives through considerate guidance and support. The core of her approach as an academic advisor is assisting students to make informed decisions in becoming even more academically successful as they move toward their goal of earning a College of Liberal Arts degree.

Willie Elfering (00:16:21) is a Military Veteran Resources Advisor within the Office of Student Life. Through his position, he provides support to military service members, veterans, and their families studying at Oregon State University.

Rican Vue (00:38:27) is an assistant professor for the School of Public Policy. Her research interests focus on diversity and equity in higher education, success of underrepresented students, Asian American students, as well as race and ethnic relations.

We are excited to gather and make accessible more stories!

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