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Webinar Recording: Breaking Down Barriers to Improve Access for First Generation

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First Generation College students face unique challenges when considering education abroad opportunities, while abroad, and upon return. What are strategies for involving first generation study abroad alumni as ambassadors for study abroad recruitment? What can be learned from alumni to further our understanding about the entirety of the education abroad experience. Where are the gaps in support for first generation college students interested in education abroad and how can alumni help identify creative solutions to address these gaps? The webinar will also include discussion related to the recruitment of faculty mentors and connecting alumni with prospective first generation study abroad participants.

Goals of the Webinar:

  • Learn how to utilize FGCS alumni to recruit other FGCS for study abroad  
  • Understand the benefits of working with FGCS post-study abroad to improve advising and programs
  • Understand the benefits of a faculty/FGCS mentoring program for faculty, students and staff. 


Jessica Francis, Associate Director for Global Abroad Programs - Wake Forest University 
Jessica Francis is the Associate Director for Global Abroad Programs at Wake Forest University.  At the Center for Global Programs and Studies Jessica is responsible for coordinating the Wake Forest semester programs and involved with development of new semester opportunities for students.  She advises students on Wake semester options and general study abroad in non-traditional locations, oversees student programming & Center’s events and serves as the study abroad scholarship advisor & member of the campus Fulbright committee.  In recent years Jessica has focused on increasing participation in study abroad among first generation college students including serving as chair of the Diversity Abroad Task Force on First Generation Students.  Wake Forest was the IIE 2013 Andrew Heiskell Winner for Study Abroad for Project MAAP(Magnolia Abroad Access Program) which was efforts related to working with First Gen. students.  Additionally she has been active in presenting at national and international conferences (Forum on Education Abroad, CIEE Annual Conference, IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad and NAFSA Regional) on topics ranging from advising first generation college students to best practices for working with faculty on abroad programs. 

Michelle Tolan, Field Director for Diversity Access and Research, IFSA - Butler 
Michelle Tolan is the Field Director for Inclusive Excellence and Research at the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University. Michelle has worked extensively to expand study abroad access to non-traditional and underrepresented college students. She spearheaded IFSA-Butler's First Generation Scholars Program, which provides scholarships and additional support for first generation college students, as well as IFSA-Butler's Fill the GAP program, which allows students to begin saving for study abroad as early as their freshman year in college.