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Lehigh Carbon Community College


Lydia Ellen Laucella, CITEL Assistant Director

Reinhardt University is a place where students take that next step in their education – and their lives. For first-year, first-generation students, the transition from home to university can be a challenge. In their pursuit for a place of belonging they can find it difficult to navigate through their new environment.

This is the focus of the 28th National Conference on Students in Transition, hosted by the University of South Carolina’s National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. Reinhardt’s Lydia Ellen Laucella, Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning (CITEL) assistant director was selected by the conference to present her dissertation findings about three female first-year, first-generation students.

The title of her presentation is “A Safe Space, Branching Out and Negotiating a New Identity” to be presented during the now-virtual conference on October 11-13.

“I am excited for this opportunity to speak at this respected conference. My approach to this research was from a standpoint feminist perspective through storytelling,” explains Laucella. “This approach provided them the opportunity to share their stories and experiences related to their university transition.”

Laucella’s research was collaborative where participants contributed their own stories – in their voice – with the understanding they would be included in the study under different names.

“I was honored to listen to their stories about bravery and the things they had to overcome,” praised Laucella. “They were committed to the research and wrote some of their own stories to be included in the larger study. Giving them a voice was powerful because fitting in is a challenge for many minorities and first-generation students. This was a way to raise awareness to the issues and encourage more research in this extremely important area.”

Reinhardt is fortunate to include so many accomplished faculty – including Laucella – which President Mark A. Roberts, Ph. D. confirmed.

“I am so proud of Lydia’s accomplishment and am so pleased she is on the Reinhardt team,” praised Dr. Roberts.  “Her research adds great value to our efforts to support first-generation students.”

Laucella hopes this research and presentation will create a springboard for other institutions to look at this audience and learn more.

“Through more research, we have the opportunity to validate these students’ experiences – with empathy and compassion – and learn how to impact the experience of our future students.”

More information about the conference can be found at:

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