Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type

Doctor of Education Capstone

Original Publication Date



You First at Virginia Commonwealth University


Richmond, Virginia

Date of Submission

April 2022


You First at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) submitted a Request for Assistance with the need for increased engagement with VCU first-generation (FG) students. To address this request, a doctoral Capstone team conducted problem and context analysis, a literature review, a mixed-methods study analyzing institutional data, a survey of current FG students at VCU, and focus group sessions with FG students at VCU. The goal was to identify FG student perceptions of their FG identities, determine the needs of FG students, and uncover factors that impact FG students’ engagement with You First. Findings suggested that the underlying cause of minimal engagement with FG students is the lack of awareness of You First services and programs. The Capstone team identified key challenges for FG students and ways for You First to continue to improve its support of FG students. Recommendations focused on increasing awareness of You First, promoting FG student connections, providing more accessible information, formalizing partnerships across the institution, and cultivating inclusivity among FG students’ families.


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