Pathfinders: A life history study of 10 academically successful Latinos from San Antonio




Castillo, Victor Anthony

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



With the study rise of the Hispanic population in the United States over the last 25-years there has been a languished progression of this populations' educational attainment. The purpose of this qualitative study was to tap into the "black-box" of ten academically successful Latino students from San Antonio by capturing the life history of their educational experience, and, the recollections of the factors that hindered or facilitated their attainment of a doctoral degree. In seeking an understanding of this phenomenon, this research utilized a phenomenological interviewing technique and a multi capitals theoretical framework underpinned in Bourdieu's cultural reproduction theory. The analysis of the narrative brought to light thirteen individual obstacles and eight institutional obstacles, resulting in a total of twenty-one themes. The thirteen individual obstacles include: Language Obstacles, Inner-ethnic Conflict, Deviance, Familial Obligations, Identity, Isolation, Preparation, Aptitude and Entrance Exams, Self-Doubt, Pressure and Fear, Academic Set-backs, Time Management, and a Hostile Social Environment. The eight institutional obstacles include: Economic Disparity, the Lack of Parental Education, the Lack of Parental School Engagement, Home-based Literacy to School-based Literacy Practices, Racism, Micro-Aggressions, a Hostile Learning Environment, and the Lack of Guidance.

Findings from the study indicate that academically successful Latinos from San Antonio were able to capitalize on various forms of social, cultural, linguistic, and economic capital en route to a doctoral degree. The list of capital includes: Economic Capital: Institutional Support, Community College, Spousal and Family Support, Employment, Loans, Age and Time as a Factor of Economic Capital; Linguistic Capital: Linguistic Capital in Early Childhood, Linguistic Capital in Adulthood; Cultural Capital: Sports and Extracurricular Affiliations, Campus Affiliations, Spiritual Affiliations; Social Capital: Social Capital in High School: Teachers, Social Capital in High School: Classmates and Peers; Social Capital in Undergraduate Studies: Professors, Social Capital in Undergraduate Studies: Classmates and Peers; Social Capital in Graduate Studies: Professors, Social Capital in Graduate Studies: Classmates and Peers; and Social Capital from other Latinos.


This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.


Bourdieu, Latino Academic Success, Latino Achievement, Latino Attainment, Life History Methodology, Multi capitals



Bicultural-Bilingual Studies