Vogel, Linda R.


Weiler, Spencer

Committee Member

Armenta, Anthony


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


University of Northern Colorado

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Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





244 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The high percentages of Latinos entering U.S. public schools and the high population predictions for the next decades have been highlighting the urgency to prepare Latinos for upward social mobility through educational attainment. Latinos have been the largest minority in the United States, yet for more than 2 centuries their educational attainment has been lagging behind White, Black, and Asian students. This narrative study explored the experiences and factors in K-12 education that contributed to the academic success of 14 Latinos students of Mexican descent who broke the odds placed against them by following a pre-college path in high school or by successfully attending a 4-year college or university. Eight high school seniors on track to go to college, 3 seniors in college, and 3 college students of Mexican descent participated in 14 face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. Participants were chosen based on their ethnicity, grade point average, and being the first generation in their family to attend college. Data from interview transcripts, autobiographies, school records, field journal notes, and personal artifacts were triangulated and analyzed to conclude findings. The epistemology for this study was grounded in constructionism in which meaning was constructed through a qualitative study conducted with participants as they engaged and interpreted their own lived experiences. The main results from this study indicated there were specific common threads among successful students that could be replicated with other students. Major findings indicated that academic rigor in advanced level classes, discipline, and high expectations from teachers and other adults were imperative to academic achievement; critical thinking was necessary to navigate conflicts derived from asserting one’s Latino identity; academic English acquisition happened in mainstreamed, rigorous classes but it was often delayed in English as a Second Language Programs; mentors and pre-college programs significantly increased the likelihood for Latinos to successfully plan, matriculate, and finish college; and financial support determines whether or not Latino students enroll in college. The implications of sharing the common characteristics of the 14 participants of this study could illuminate educators in the right direction to help Latinos overcome educational barriers that hinder their educational promise.

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