The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 33 ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/LEEKRIS Scott B. Winton, one of the founders of the Department of State’s employee organization FirstGens@ State, served as its president from November 2022 to March 2024. He is a rst-generation college graduate and TRIO alum from Branson, Missouri, joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 2009 through the omas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign A airs Fellowship. He holds a BSBA from the University of Missouri–Columbia and an M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. He is currently on detail to the O ce of the Vice President as the special adviser to the vice president for the Western Hemisphere. e opinions and information presented are solely the author’s and do not necessarily re ect or characterize State Department policy. First-Generation Professionals Another Dimension of Diversity FEATURE Did you know that in 2021 more than half of all children under 18 in the United States lived in households where no parent had a college degree? More than half of today’s college students are “FirstGens.” Yet only about a quarter of them go on to complete their college degree. e social and nancial barriers they contend with in college often continue to burden them even after graduating and entering the workforce. Founded in November 2022, FirstGens@State is a new employee organization that heightens public and workforce awareness of the challenges commonly faced by rst-generation college students, graduates, and professionals (FirstGens), as well as employees from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. United by a shared experience, FirstGens@State is a diverse community that envisions a world in which the insight and socioeconomic understanding of FirstGens strengthen the U.S. government’s ability to advance our national interests. eir experiences help inform diplomacy, aiding the State Department to better understand and communicate with socioeconomically disadvantaged communities abroad, providing unique expertise on domestic socioeconomic challenges, and broadening the department’s representation of our country. We are creating an environment in which employees can tell their stories, nd mentors, and o er support to fellow FirstGens@State members, thus fostering a sense of belonging and shared purpose. After one year, more than 400 members call FirstGens@State home. First-Generation Challenges e Higher Education Act of 1965 de nes a rst-generation college student as “an individual ... whose parent(s) did not A new employee organization at State spotlights the challenges commonly faced by first-generation college students, graduates, and professionals. BY SCOTT B. WINTON