Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


The Experiences of Latina Students at a Predominantly White University

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Ellen Broido (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Ruben Viramontez Anguiano (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Patricia Kubow (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Carolyn Palmer (Committee Member)


This qualitative study used focus groups to explore and understand the experiences of 13 self-identified Latina students who were attending a predominantly White university in the Midwest. The use of Chicana feminist theory and academic and social integration theory helped frame the study. Similarities and differences among Latinas, as well as an exploration of the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, and culture in relation to the experiences of Latinas while attending college at a predominantly White university in the Midwest were highlighted. Through the exploration of their lived experiences, participants identified the factors and conditions affecting their experiences in college, how family and culture shaped their experiences, and how their perceptions of the campus environment shaped their experiences while in college. The results of this study suggest that maintaining close ties to family members, having a space on campus to practice and enjoy Latino culture, being resilient, and finding their niche in the campus environment through programs focused on underrepresented students were the keys to their persistence in college. Another major finding of this study, that requires further study, is the undesirable change in the relationship between Latina mothers and daughters as the daughter furthers her education. Many participants' close relationships with their mothers were instrumental to their enrolling in college yet tension arose between mother and daughter as the daughter progressed toward graduation.