If I Knew Then

  • Brooke Boal Durham University
Keywords: first-generation college, higher education, hidden curriculum, belonging, educational access


Brooke Boal is a student at Durham University studying BA Philosophy and Theology. She is originally from the seaside town of Fleetwood, Lancashire. During her time at university, Boal struggled to navigate her first-generation identity; however, over the past three years she documented parts of her life in a diary. The diary was intended to be a reflective exercise to help her understand her feelings and experiences, as she knew that she wanted to gain a more positive mindset. Three years later, she shares some of her personal diary entries to present the most authentic version of her story. Boal addresses her former self to highlight how she came to be proud of her first-generation status. She intends to share her diary entries to show other readers who may also be experiencing a hard time in their lives that everything does get better.