Date of Completion

7-11-2012

Embargo Period

7-11-2012

Open Access

Open Access

Abstract

Latinas/os are one of the fastest growing minority groups in the United States. In fact, the United States Census Bureau projects that by the year 2050, the numbers of Hispanics will more than double, increasing from the current figure of 50.5 million to 102.6 million. Despite such rapid population growth, the numbers of Latinas/os with at least a Bachelor’s degree remain low. In this study, I explore the intersection of racial-ethnic and social class identities in relation to academic identities. Specifically, I examine the challenges facing Latina/o college students of various socioeconomic backgrounds as they negotiate a predominantly White, middle-class university setting. Using qualitative data consisting of semi-structured interviews, as well as ethnographic observations, my study found seven key themes influencing the experiences of students. These themes include: 1) examples of differences in habitus and cultural capital, 2) feeling different on campus, 3) a sense of guilt associated with being in college, 4) being accused of “Acting White,” 5) feeling a sense of responsibility of giving back to the family and/or the Latino community, 6) resistance within these different categories and 7) examples of racial microaggressions. The existing literature often focuses on the challenges facing African-American students. This thesis seeks to expand on the existing literature by incorporating the experiences of various types of Latina/o college students.

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