First-Gen at WSU: Zachary Brown

Zachary Brown with his daughter and Wu

Zachary Brown is the director of strategic enrollment management and student services for the Barton School of Business at Wichita State University. He says it's important for first-gen students to know that they belong and can be successful in college and later in their careers.

Wichita State University is home to nearly 5,000 first-generation students, individuals whose caregivers weren't able to complete a college degree and who lack the firsthand experience to tackle college life. To help with their transition, Wichita State offers a number of resources to first-gen students to support them during their time in college, including F1RST GEN SHOCKERS.

Hear from Zachary Brown, director of strategic enrollment and student services in the Barton School of Business and a current employee at Wichita State who went to college as a first-gen student, about the first-gen experience.



What was your major when attending college?

Bachelor’s in political science, master’s in communication

What does being first gen mean to you?

For me, it represents all of the hard work and sacrifices made by my family to help me reach this point, and it represents new opportunities for my daughter and future generations.

How has your first-gen experience inspired you?

It has given me the confidence to face new challenges and to embrace uncomfortable situations.

Why does advocating for first-gen students matter?

It helps students know that they are not alone, they are not “imposters” in an unfamiliar and often intimidating environment. If they know that there are others like them who are successful, they can see it for themselves too and they can turn to advocates for help and support.

What can faculty and staff do to help first-gen students?

Show some grace and take some time to think about what it might be like if you didn’t know anything about higher education. What may now come as intuitively as breathing does to some of us may be a complete unknown to a student and they may not know what they don’t know. A little patience, grace and understanding can go a long way.

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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