Allison Fraiberg

Humanities enthusiast finds a home in School of Business

After growing up in Montreal from “humble beginnings,” Allison Fraiberg, a University of Redlands business professor enjoyed her undergraduate experience as a first-generation college student. “McGill University [in Canada]catered to both local and global students,” she says. “The student body was really diverse, and because of that I always felt like I had a place there. I had a blast.”

Crediting the Canadian education system, Fraiberg notes that there wasn’t as much of a barrier for first-generation students to attend college as there is in the United States. “It was really possible for first-generation college students to go to a good university because it was local and cheap,” she says. “My father’s family is Jewish, and there was encouragement within the Jewish community to go to university. That helped me more than anything.”

It wasn’t until graduate school in the United States that Fraiberg began to face challenges. “I received scholarships to go to college in the U.S.” she says. “That was when I started to see that most of my peers had come from families who had gone to university, and I felt like an outsider.”

Fraiberg went on to receive a Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of Washington. “In Seattle in the early 90s, if you had a Ph.D. in the humanities you either went to work at Microsoft or became a professor, and I really enjoyed academic life,” she says half-jokingly. “I realized I wanted to be a professor when I got my first job at Cal State Los Angeles. I loved being with students who were also first-generation college students, and were there despite people who may not have believed in them and institutional structures that created barriers.”

With degrees in cultural studies, film, and English, Fraiberg was hired by the Liberal Studies department of the University of Redlands Whitehead College in 1996. “After Whitehead College became the School of Business, I began teaching business classes,” she says. “What’s nice about a business school that embraces the liberal arts is that every course requires communication skills and critical thinking, which fall into my field of study.”

When asked if she has any advice for current first-generation college students, Fraiberg suggests they rely on their intuition. “Students should attend universities where administrators and faculty show an interest in them,” she says. “First-generation students will know if they’re wanted on a college campus. I encourage them to trust their instincts.”