Second-Generation Immigrant Latinx/a/os and Their First-Generation College Experience: Counterstories of Success and Belonging
This study examines the higher education experiences of Latinx/a/o students who are both first-generation college students and second-generation immigrants, and the ways they navigate and develop a sense of belonging in higher education. The sample is comprised of 10 junior- and senior-level Latinx/a/o first-generation college students—who are also second-generation immigrants—attending a Hispanic Serving Institution in South Central Texas. I conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with all participants. I also conducted follow-up pláticas with participants and participant-observations with five key participants on and off campus. Additional observations of campus events geared towards first-generation college students added to the context of the study. A Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) and Community Cultural Wealth framework guided the analysis. Findings from this study shed light on the higher educational experiences of Latinx/a/o first-generation college students—who are also second-generation immigrants—and how they utilized their community cultural wealth to 1) maintain their families and their own aspirations to meet the immigrant bargain through educational success; 2) receive support from their family and community (both local and transnational) in navigating their pathway to higher education; 3) navigate institutions of higher education while overcoming barriers that impact students mental and emotional well-being and sense of belonging on campus; and 4) resist inequitable educational structures while maintaining their language, culture, and sense of identity. The narratives presented in this study further illuminate the ways race, class, language, and immigration status intersect to shape participants higher education experiences and persistence. Recommendations and implications of this study are discussed.