Rodriquez, Katrina

Committee Member

Wright-Mair, Rquel

Committee Member

Lechuga, Chalane

Committee Member

Falcon, Priscilla


Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



253 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Race, a socially constructed idea designed to maintain the power and privilege of Whiteness and the colonial and economic exploitation of Black/Brown-identified people in the United States (Quiros & Araujo Dawson, 2013), has a direct impact on the ethnic identity development and self-authorship of Brown people (i.e., Latina/os, Chicana/os, Hispanics, etc.). This inquiry uncovers the testimonios of five Brown women participants and their continued ethnic identity and self-authorship development as first-generation students in graduate school. From a critical, cultural, constructivist lens and blend of testimonio (Reyes & Curry Rodriguez, 2012) and collage inquiry (Butler-Kisber, 2007), this research applied a borderlands/Mestiza consciousness (Anzaldúa, 1987) and intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) framework to dismantle binary definitions and experiences that imprison women in their identity development. Participant testimonios revealed patterns based on their navigation through the intrapersonal, epistemological, and interpersonal self-authorship dimensions. Specifically, patterns emerged around participant's experiences shifting in their Brownness, understanding their intersectionality, self-transformation, self-validation, responsibility to family, and being alone or “the lonely one” in graduate school. Implications for practice include mentorship opportunities, co-curricular engagement, engagement of family in graduate school, capacity building, and mental health support for graduate students. Each of the implications must center and include the students and communities that they are intended to support. While this inquiry can benefit all higher education institutions, predominately White institutions should engage most with the implications presented to strengthen their support of graduate students of Color who also identify as first-generation.

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Copyright is held by the author.