By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ana Barros grew up in a Habitat for Humanity house surrounded by vacant lots. Neither parent went to college but she scored 2200 on her SATs, so she expected to fit in at Harvard. However, it wasn’t as she imagined so she decided to”come out” and now leads a First-Generation Student Union.

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Hung Pham, who is graduating from Yale in May, recalls that in his first art history class, the professor asked each student for a favorite Renaissance painter and he hadn’t any. The focus, he said, has always been on deficits; How can I do better? How can I catch up?

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In the country’s most prestigious colleges, first-gens are speaking up – there’s a Hidden Minority Council at Princeton, and the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership at Yale and Columbia and the colleges are paying attention, designating first-gen administrators; at Georgetown welcome gifts of bedding, and Harvard’s website has a first-gen section.

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Read more about first-gens and their responses in The New York Times.