Zipporah Osei wrote about first-gen experiences to add more critical voices to the higher education beat. Photo Credit: Ruby Wallau

Hello and welcome to the last edition of First Gen!

I started this newsletter two years ago, during my last semester in college. I had no grandiose visions of what this would become at the time, but I was coming to the end of a pivotal chapter in my life and I knew I wanted a space to make sense of my college career and give some insight to others who were navigating their own. 

I knew how being a first-generation college student had shaped my journey long before I had even stepped foot on a college campus, and I knew through conversations with friends and peers, that while I was in the minority at my school, I wasn’t alone in my experience. This newsletter became a space to talk frankly about the highs and lows of being first-gen, and create a platform for other first-gen students, grads, and educators to share their own stories.

Very soon after I launched, the pandemic hit, and everything I thought I knew about what my post-grad experience would be like was thrown out the window. The newsletter seemed ill-fated at the time, but like so many of you reading, I spent the early stages of the pandemic doing a lot of reflecting on what my life could look like on the other side of it, and I’m so grateful to have had this platform to work through my feelings on missed milestones, fears about the future, and life in transition.

I recently got a chance to reflect on my time writing this newsletter with Naomi Harris for her Open Campus newsletter, The Intersection, and in doing so I got the chance to look back on what I’ve created and the people who helped me put it together. I’ve experienced a lot of big life changes in both my personal and professional life since starting this newsletter, and recently I’ve felt a similar desire to close this chapter of my life and step into the next, but before I go, some thank yous are in order. 

One of the highlights of writing First Gen has been all of the insanely smart, talented, and driven first-gen students I’ve had the pleasure to work with to put this together. From the very start, I knew that my experiences wouldn’t be enough to paint a portrait of first-gen life. I’m so thankful to have had students of so many backgrounds share their stories about the college search process, winning their battles with their mental health, navigating their relationships with family, and more. 

Thank you, of course, to Sara and Scott at Open Campus, who so early on saw the potential in this newsletter and what it could mean in higher education news. A big theme of my life has been the importance of being supported and mentored as a first-gen student, and I’m grateful to have gotten that in creating this newsletter. 

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank everyone who took the time to subscribe to First Gen. Even as this newsletter ends, I hope you will continue to think about the first-generation college students in your lives and the ways you can empower them as you’ve done for me. 

Thank you for reading, 


If you want to continue following my work, follow me on Twitter @zipporahosei and reach me for questions and comments at

Keep in touch with Open Campus

First Gen was one of the very first newsletters we added at Open Campus when we started our nonprofit newsroom a few years ago. We’re focused on bringing more attention to key higher ed issues that go undercovered — and Zipporah was writing about the experiences of first-generation students in insightful, personal, and compelling ways. 

We’re so grateful to Zipporah for her partnership, and we’re grateful to you for following her work.

We hope that you’ll stay in touch. Since those early days, we’ve added other newsletters, including The Intersection, by Naomi Harris, which focuses on issues of race and equity in higher education. Her most recent issue includes a conversation with Zipporah about her work on First Gen. Check it out, and subscribe, here.

Thanks for reading!

— Sara Hebel, co-founder, Open Campus

A journalist and first-generation college student originally from Yonkers, N.Y., Zipporah is in her last year at Northeastern University. She has reported for The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education,...