Presenter Tamam Waritu

According to The Center for First-Generation Student Success, as of 2015-2016, first-generation students represented 56 percent of all undergraduates in the US. The concerted efforts to enhance access to higher education in recent decades have undeniably narrowed enrollment gaps and resulted in a significant influx of low-income first-generation students into colleges. This represents a remarkable achievement for our society and higher education institutions, particularly considering the prevailing evidence of higher education's role as a key facilitator of upward mobility for low-income first-generation students.

Regrettably, however, data shows that low-income first-generation students continue to face starkly different educational and career outcomes compared to their high-income continuing generation peers. A 2022 report by Education Data revealed that first-generation students have a 92.2 percent higher dropout rate than their counterparts. This sobering statistic implies that for the majority of these students, despite their aspirations and diligent efforts to enter college, their dreams of ascending the socioeconomic ladder remain largely unrealized. Additionally, many of these students depart from school saddled with considerable debt and face diminished employment prospects.

In this talk, Tamam will highlight compelling reasons why the higher education sector should urgently address these disparities.

Tamam Waritu, a first-generation graduate himself, is a national student trainer dedicated to empowering first-generation low-income students. His work has left a positive imprint on thousands across thirty states. Mr. Waritu completed his BA at Portland State University in 2008 and went on to earn an Ed.M. from Harvard University. As the founder and lead trainer at First Gen Training (, he provides transformative guidance to first-generation students, leveraging his unique experiences that garnered him recognition as "one of the most inspiring graduate students on campus" by the Harvard Magazine.

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