Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Usree Bhattacharya, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Curtis Porter, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Pablo Mendoza, Ph.D.

Abstract

This qualitative case study aims to provide a nuanced insight into the reported racial, ethnic, linguistic, and gendered experiences of five Latina undergraduate students attending a predominately White institution in western Pennsylvania. Additionally, by exploring the ways in which these students encounter on-campus resources and student organizations created for Latino/a students at the university, their perspectives regarding the importance of these resources for successfully navigating a PWI are revealed.

Data was collected through five semi-structured interviews and subsequently transcribed and analyzed for themes using content analysis. Emergent themes included stereotyping related to academic potential, social connections and race; language; spaces/geographies; email and personal networks; recommendations for outreach; importance of involvement/informal support systems; and rationale for not accessing resources. The implications of this study call for increased outreach to incoming Latino/a students to raise awareness of resources available to them, a need for multicultural training of faculty to reduce instances of differential treatment and microaggressions in the classroom, and participants’ establishment of alternative or informal support systems when encountering challenges at the university.

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