Meet First Gen at OW


Meet the First Generation at SUNY Old Westbury

First in your family to attend college?  You are not alone, more than a third of Old Westbury students are "first generation students".  In addition to the students, many faculty and staff were also the first in their family to pursue a college degree.  



Betty Berbari, Director, Math Redesign Lab

Being a first generation college graduate always meant so much to me. My parents immigrated to the US from Greece in 1959 and both barely finished high school. Growing up in Brooklyn, they made it clear that going to college was a must.  I also learned quickly how to be independent. Applying to college, the SAT, etc., were all things that I had to manage on my own. It is hard to describe the looks on their faces at my commencement. Being the student commencement speaker was the icing on the cake! Their inspiration caused me to to go to graduate school as well.


Michelle Farrelman, Sociology, Class of 2018

When I was growing up my parents struggled to make ends meet.  I decided that I did not want to be like them and that I would be the first in my family to attend college.  My Dad never thought I would make it, but I made it!  Growing up my family always said that it is important to receive a college education.  I never realized how important it was until I got older.  I encourage anyone who does not think they can make it to college to go for it, it's worth it!


Ian Gupton, Sociology, Class of 2018

My mom always told me that not attending college is not an option and that I must go to college.  I never truly understood why she always made that statement until I enrolled and began attending college.  It was then that I understood why I was charged with the responsibility of obtaining higher education.  Because what I began to understand is that, just as my mother always told me, knowledge gives you the POWER and AUTHORITY to DEMAND what you want in life and not have to just accept what people give to you.  This is why I try to encourage all whom I can, especially my younger cousins, siblings, etc. to go to college.  They too, should know that this is something that they can achieve and why it is necessary for them to do so that they too can have dominion over their own lives….