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Dr. Alicia Johnson

Director of Women’s Center, UW Oshkosh

Alicia’s Story

We talk a lot about first generation students…but then we don’t follow-up and talk about first-generation professionals. My story is not that unique. There are lots of first-gen students and professionals, but we don’t talk about it. We talk a lot about supporting first-generation students, but… we then don’t think about the continued impact, like navigating a professional workplace or not having parents or family around to share our experiences.

For me in particular, I have two brothers and neither went to college. I always joke with my mom that she has three kids and I have three degrees; one for each of her kids, but I get to keep the Ph.D. I think being a first-gen professional is important too. To get students to think about how their first gen identity doesn’t stop when they stop being a student or when they graduate is important to share. It is something they will continue to navigate.

Memorable Quotes


It is easy for folks who have multiple privileged identities along with oppressed identities to navigate towards the oppressed identities but then not hold ourselves accountable for our privileged identities. For me, I try to actively think about how my identities as cisgender, heterosexual, and white are impacting how I analyze equity issues on campus and try to actively think through an intersectional lens.


I am someone who respects space when space is needed…if women of color don’t feel comfortable talking to me about a particular issue, I hope, at minimum, that I am someone they could see coming to as a referral source. That I could connect them to someone who might intimately know what they are going through because I don’t have the shared experiences with everyone. For me…it is important through my actions that I position myself to show that I am, hopefully, a trusted person that will be a connector.