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Celebrating First-Generation Students: Rabia Zahid

As a first-generation student, Rabia Zahid constantly second-guessed her ability to excel in college. After starting school in Chicago, Zahid is not just finishing her education at Boise State, she is thriving and looking ahead to graduate school.

Zahid found her confidence and drive to succeed after arriving at Boise State and being introduced to the McNair Scholars Program. “After getting accepted to the program, my academic career took off,” said Zahid. “I went from being a student who came to class and left right after, to someone who was meeting with professors, diving into research project ideas and taking opportunities like becoming a teaching assistant.”

A psychology major with a minor in family studies, Zahid is currently applying to graduate programs to become a school psychologist, and hopes to earn a doctoral degree in child and human development and learning. Like many first-generation students who have faced adversity to get into college, Zahid would like to focus her future research endeavors on understanding and giving back to students who have backgrounds like hers.

“I would like my doctoral research to focus on individual and environmental factors that promote healthy development and academic success in marginalized youth from low-income backgrounds,” said Zahid. “I want to focus on how marginalized communities navigate and experience educational spaces.”


Meet Rabia Zahid

Initially unsure of herself as a first-generation student, Rabia Zahid is not only excelling in her undergraduate studies in psychology, she’s a research assistant and has completed an internship with the College Bound Program at the International Rescue Committee and is president of the Psi Chi Chapter at Boise State.

Zahid found success at Boise State with the support of the McNair Scholars program. The program’s goal is to increase the number of students from working class and underrepresented backgrounds in the advanced  and doctoral degree pipeline.

Zahid has triumphed over self-doubt to become an excellent student at Boise State. Beyond her studies in psychology, Zahid has gotten involved in both research and student life despite feeling different after coming from a large and diverse city like Chicago.

“While I was getting involved in school more it was still super difficult to feel like I fit in and make friends,” said Zahid. “I think sometimes my hijab makes it harder for others to connect with me, but even then, I have met some amazing people at Boise State and cherish their friendship and support.”

Zahid also credits the McNair Scholars Program with connecting her to students who have the same ambitions, and allows her to be “nerdy” around people who can appreciate it. “We can be passionate about our research and share our struggles because we all have that same goal of getting into graduate school.”

November 9th – 13th is First-Generation College Celebration week. The Center for Multicultural Educational Opportunities, housed in the College of Education, includes a variety of programs that support first-generation college students.

Center for Multicultural Educational Opportunities