About Me


What can we learn from and about the experiences of first-generation college students?


How can their experiences help guide, support and teach other first-generation college students, to make the road a little smoother?


What do these lessons mean for those who work with, or care about first-generation college students and recent graduates?


Many first-generation college students (or college-bound high school students) do not recognize that they share common experiences with other first-gens.  As a result, they can feel isolated or blame themselves when they hit hurdles adjusting to and succeeding in college. Hopefully, hearing the stories of other first-gens can help ease their way.


First Gen College works to help first generation college students to and through college and beyond. We share stories, resources and offer programs to support them on their college and career journeys. We also connect students and recent graduates to professionals and career opportunities.


It is my hope that you will recognize something of yourself in the young people on this site and their stories, that you will share these resources with others, and that you will gain greater insight into some of the challenges and successes of first-generation college students in this time and place.


To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

I am the granddaughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe and I was a second-generation college student.


I was the founder and director of a social justice youth development program for sixteen years.  I met many inspiring and insightful young people who have taught me so much.  In the process, I also learned more about the challenges faced by first-generation college students from low income communities, some of whom were also undocumented.


This project is inspired by my desire to give them an opportunity to share their wisdom and the lessons they have learned with a broader audience, and to help other first-gens navigate this course feeling less alone.


Shifra Teitelbaum, EdD




Nancy Ma, Program Outreach Specialist



Thank you to all the young people who are enthusiastically sharing their photos, stories, and experiences for this project, and who are involved in many different ways.


Thank you to LOGTV for being our fiscal administrator, enabling supporters to make tax-deductible, charitable contributions to underwrite this project. LOGTV is a non-profit organization of Slawomir Grunberg and Katka Reszke, two talented filmmakers who I met in 2012, when they filmed the Teitelbaum family trip to Poland to visit our great-grandparents’ town, Wielopole.


Thank you to David Bryant, for your talent and time designing this website, and so much more.


Thank you to all my friends and family, who have been listening to me, encouraging me, supporting me and providing valuable ideas and input, enabling me to bring this project to life.


And a deep, heartfelt thank you to all the generous people who are helping to make this project possible. Your support is deeply appreciated.


Nancy Ma was born and raised in New York City. For college, she chose a college that was the complete opposite and spent 4 years studying in a small town in the Berkshire Mountains. Neither of her parents finished high school; she was the first in her family to graduate from college. Besides acting and writing, Nancy also leads performance classes at local organizations that serve the homeless community.

She is excited to be joining the First Gen College team doing student outreach.