Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Andrew D Coppens

Second Advisor

Jayson Seaman

Third Advisor

Erin Sharp


This study explores the ways in which rural, first-generation college (RFGC) students position themselves in relation to dominant cultural master narratives and potentially competing alternative narratives related to community and family processes, norms, life pathways, and choices after college. Evidence is drawn from in-depth narrative interviews with 15 RFGC students conducted both at school and in students’ home communities. The study contributes to an anti-deficit understanding of rural first-generation college students’ college experiences and identity by focusing not on challenges and barriers but on the ways individuals both align and agentically reject dominant cultural narratives as well as the ways rural youth create new stories and possibilities.