Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Renee Kaufmann


This thesis examined the experiences of first-generation college students in the context of higher education. This thesis was framed by the communication theory of resilience to discover how first-generation college students enact five processes of resilience: crafting normalcy, affirming identity anchors, maintaining and using communication networks, employing alternate logics, and foregrounding productive action. First-generation college students face academic preparation, financial, social capital, personal, and college completion adversities that may necessitate engagement in resilience processes. Participants (N = 8) participated in focus groups and interviews where they discussed messages from family, peers, and university faculty and staff involving reactive and proactive resilience processes. Results showed that first-generation college student engage in all five processes of resilience with peers and university faculty and staff and four processes of resilience with family. Implications for theory, limitations, and future directions for research directions for research are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)