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SCU First Gen Staff/Faculty Profiles

Dennis Gordon
Professor, Political Science
Where did you attend college?

San Francisco State University

What was your college experience like as a first-generation college student?

I was the first in my family to finish college. My mother was widowed at age twenty-two with two small children and so she had to work very hard and give up her dream of finishing high school and eventually going to college. Like many first gen students, I was blessed to have a mother who put education on a pedestal, something that would not only provide a good living but give us kids a chance to "be who we wanted to be" and strive for justice for others (she worked for a labor union). San Francisco State had a large number of working class and minority students so I only felt like a fish out of water academically, not socially. I know that this was a benefit that not all SCU students have.. I am a proud member of San Francisco State's Class of 1969. In 1969, students, faculty, and staff staged a four month strike to establish the first Ethnic Studies college in the country. Despite violent repression from Gov. Ronald Reagan we were successful--¡Venceremos!

What message do you have to share with current first-generation college students?

Every generation faces challenges which are different and yet the same in many ways. First and foremost, know that you earned admission to college and are strong and talented. Know too that there are students, faculty, staff, and alumni ready to be your ally, waiting to accompany you in solidarity to discern your goals, succeed, and find your path to service for others.