First-Gen Faculty & Staff

Mark Jordan

Mark Jordan

Associate Professor, Environmental Science Affiliate
Pronouns: He/Him/His


BS Biology, University of Puget Sound, 1997
PhD Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley, 2007


What does being first-gen mean to you?

It means that I listened to my mother. She didn't finish college, and she always felt like she would have had a more satisfying career if she had. Because of that, she insisted that I go to college – it was non-negotiable.
What challenges/barriers have you faced or overcome during college?

I really felt out of my depth and unprepared my first few years of graduate school. I was around people who all seemed to have learned more in undergraduate and were smarter than me. Once I figured out what I was good at, and had the time to develop some competence in it, I was able to feel more comfortable around my peers.
What resource(s) or support helped you to be successful?

Like I mentioned above, my going to college was non-negotiable, and my mom's pride in my accomplishments was a very important motivator. I would also say that having like-minded peers who were having the same struggles and successes was also really important.
Do you have an inspirational quote that helped guide you through college?

It was my mom telling me "You will get a college degree. I don't care what it's in or what you do with it, but you will finish college."
What advice would you give to someone else who is also first-gen?

Give it time. It may be hard at first to adjust to the expectations of college, so allow yourself the time to acclimate. It's really hard to imagine this when you're in the moment, but eventually, the things that seemed insurmountable will feel second nature to you.