Discovering Narratives: First Generation Faculty Project Findings

Khoban Kochai, M.P.H.

Operations Manager

Faculty Development and Diversity


Under Dr. Hendry Ton’s leadership, Faculty Development and Diversity is prioritizing understanding the needs and experiences of UCDH faculty through its Diversity DRIVE (Discovering, Resilience, Inclusion, academic Vitality, and Excellence) Initiative. Using an appreciative inquiry approach this initiative aims to enhance faculty experience, improve diversity, and promote inclusion.

The cornerstone of Diversity DRIVE is to discover the narratives of faculty members, and through those narratives to determine best practices to guide FDD in developing and refining resources for diverse faculty. FDD is leading two key projects that are integral to this process: The FirstGen Health Faculty project (covered today) and the Under-Represented faculty in Health (UIH) project (Keep a look out!). The FirstGen Health Faculty Project is an extension of the UC Davis First Generation Initiative which aims to provide a sense of connection, access, and encouragement for first-gen students and faculty.


Between August 2017-January 2018, FDD conducted 18 interviews with Schools of Health faculty who self-identified as first generation college graduates (FGCG).  FGCG faculty told the story of their path to academic health and described significant factors and challenges in their success in becoming a faculty member. Qualitative analyses of de-identified interview transcripts were conducted by the Schools of Health Evaluation team to ascertain common experiences and themes. A report was developed summarizing primary themes and subthemes relating to participants perspectives, experiences, and recommendations for new FGCG faculty and students at the UC Davis Schools of Health.

Findings and Conclusions:

Findings highlight factors that influence success among first generation faculty, both in inspiring a pathway towards success and challenges to achieving success throughout their career. These findings are summarized (image to the right) at the individual, social/community, and infrastructure levels.

Findings from the UC Davis Schools of Health First Generation Faculty interviews may provide insights into opportunities to address common challenges and increase factors that foster success among first generation students and new academic faculty at different stages of their career trajectory.

Areas for Growth

Areas of potential application of these findings in academic settings such as UC Davis are being developed and may foster success among first generation students and new academic faculty in their professional careers. Promoting these opportunities identified as support factors may also attenuate potential stressors and challenges frequently experienced by FGCG faculty in academic health.

Tell us about some of your experiences!

Challenges noted by faculty:

Imposter syndrome…that’s been the biggest challenge, constantly fighting that feeling of not good enough…It’s always your own tape that’s the hardest.”

“…as a woman and an underrepresented minority, sometimes it seems like you have to reach a greater level in order to achieve the next step, or to be as well-respected once you get to the next step with your seat at the table.”

Factors that foster success:

You need to mentors, and not just one person because one person isn’t gonna be able to fill all the roles. You need someone in your academic area, whatever you’re interested in, but also people to help you network, people to help you to decide what career is right for you.”

You need resilience for any aspect of it, because nobody goes from triumph to triumph that I’m aware of…”

By | 2019-07-22T20:45:14+00:00 September 19, 2018|Diversity|