Raising Ourselves Up: Oral Histories from First-Generation College Students at BCC” is a Collaborative Experiential Learning Pilot Project to build a video oral history archive to document the stories of first-generation college students on our campus. Each student’s time at BCC is unique, yet all students are bound to each other by the shared sense of struggle towards achieving a college education. Using video oral history interviews, students will examine the challenges faced by low-income, working-class groups of peer students from various ethnic, racial, and immigrant backgrounds, groups that BCC is dedicated to serving and who have been historically underrepresented in higher education. This project will also help inspire resiliency among BCC students by showing positive examples of overcoming adversity to attain a college education.


Our project will be a team effort, combining resources provided by 1) the Student Support Services/General Counseling Department where Dr. Nelson Reynoso will foster existing connections to recruit student interview subjects; 2) the Archives within the Library Department where Prof. Cynthia Tobar provides training workshops in Oral History methodology and the production of the video interviews. The resulting video oral history interviews will ultimately be deposited at the BCC Archives where they will be processed and made available to the public via an online archive.


The Archives will process the collection, catalog them through item-level descriptions as well as a collection-level finding aid, and post as many of the interviews as possible online that will make their contents searchable and therefore more accessible. A final goal of the project is to use the collection as the basis for increased community and public engagement surrounding the issue of access to public higher education through outreach, social media, online publishing, and programming.


A group of 10 students will learn how to work collaboratively to interview a group of 10 peer students and at the end of the semester our collaborative research findings will be shared in public forums on our own campus and throughout CUNY, online, in local high schools, and throughout other academic conferences.