One in five FIU undergraduates is among the first generation in the family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Each year on Nov. 8, colleges and universities across the United States come together to honor and celebrate the achievements of first-generation students, who face unique challenges as they attempt to break familial cycles and chart new paths. The celebration marks the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which was intended to help level a playing field that historically had been weighted against Americans from minority and low-income backgrounds.

Alec Joseph
Alec Joseph is looking forward to graduating from FIU this year and will be among the first generation in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Joseph grew up in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and was eager to attend FIU.

As a computer science major and a scholar in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, he has participated in faculty-guided, undergraduate research examining open-source software for 5G applications. He also earned a prestigious CodePath Tech Fellowship, serving as a campus ambassador and advancing CodePath’s mission to diversify tech and provide learning opportunities for computer science students. And he recently designed an e-commerce website for his family’s small business.

Joseph was inspired to go into computer science by the power of his smartphone. “The first phone I ever had was a Windows phone… and I love math, like mathematics and writing in general, and I wanted to see how math applied to other fields like computer science and computer engineering,” he said.

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