The determination to persist and succeed: First generation Latino male college students




Kaulfus, John David

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The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the college going experiences of Latino male students and identify factors that influenced persistence and success at four-year public colleges and universities. For the purposes of this dissertation, a successful student was defined as a first generation Latino male who had completed eighty or more college credits, had achieved a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and was eligible for graduation. A review of the literature clearly showed that research in this area was lacking, especially as it related specifically to Latino male persistence and success at traditional four-year colleges and universities.

An interpretive, qualitative research design was employed utilizing two focus groups and seven follow-up interviews. The theoretical frameworks that guided this dissertation were Rendón’s (1994) Validation Theory and Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth Theory. Potential researcher bias and positionality issues were identified and addressed within the context of this study.

This dissertation identified four significant findings that impacted successful Latino males the most: 1) family, mentor, and peer validation, 2) ganas/determination, 3) academic readiness at the collegiate level, and 4) and overcoming financial barriers and obstacles. The identification of these important factors and influencers will guide university leaders as they allocate resources and develop programs to address persistence and success factors first generation Latino male college students.


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College, First Generation, Latino, Males, Persistence, Success



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies