Beyond the Barriers: The Life Stories of Three Rural Latinos in Higher Education
Research has shown that Latino males have some of the lowest collegiate completion rates compared to their racial and ethnic peers (Saenz et al., 2016). Further, individuals from rural communities continually lag behind in educational attainment than those from other geographic areas. Taken collectively, addressing this current problem becomes an urgent matter. As the Latino population continues to increase, and more students from diverse backgrounds enroll in college, college administrators will be called upon to develop ways to support these unique student populations. The purpose of this study was to shed light into the lived experiences of Latinos from rural communities. Moreover, it was to understand how familial, social, and contextual factors have influenced their experiences in their degree pursuits.
A qualitative multi-case study (Stake, 1995) design, incorporating a quasi-life history (Cole & Knowles, 2001) approach was used to explore the lives of three Latino males from rural communities. This study was guided by one overarching research question: (1) What are the perceptions and lived experiences of Latinos from rural communities who are pursuing a four year degree? Through interviews and a site visit, four themes emerged from the data gathered: (1) Familial Impacts, (2) Networks of Support, (3) Student Resiliency, and (4) Commitment to Helping Others. These themes represented their experiences and the numerous factors that have influenced the participants lives. More importantly, they showcase the various forms of community cultural capital (Yosso, 2005) that each participant possessed and utilized throughout their educational journeys.