Invisible Strengths: A Case Study :;Exploring the Cultural Capital and Educational Attainment of Mexican-American Men Who Served in the United States Army




Moreno, Victor, III

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The purpose of this study is to explore the possible intersections of cultures between the Mexican-American male culture and the U.S. Army culture. The research question guiding this study is: How do Mexican-American male Army veterans describe the influences and intersections of Mexican-American culture and Army culture that shaped academic persistence and/or college degree attainment? The problem this study examined is the lack of college degree attainment for Latino men and the failure of the higher education culture to recognize the cultural capital of Mexican-American men to support their educational goals. This study applied Yosso's (2005) model of community cultural wealth (CCW) as the theoretical framework to inform the research. The use of CCW enabled this research to be examined through a strength-based lens and provide a counter narrative to previous studies which examine the problem form a culturally deprived lens. Merriam (1998) case study approach was as the research method used to gather and analyze the data from a bounded system with a culturally-centered approach focusing on the cuentos (testimony) the four participants provided in forms of interviews and reflective journals.

Overall, the key finding of this study is that there are multiple intersections between the home culture and Army culture that influenced academic persistence and degree attainment.

This study clearly illustrates how the strengths these four men carried with them from their home culture were made visible by congruent cultural values which were nurtured by Army culture. The findings of this study suggest that capital, when nurtured, significantly impacts one's concept of self-worth, resiliency, and motivation. Findings from this study can be used to address the structural inequities which still exist in the education culture and shift the discourse and praxis of Latino men's lack of educational attainment from a deficit approach to a strength-based approach; one that recognizes cultural strengths may not directly align with the dominant culture but when properly leveraged, can lead to maximum educational outcomes.


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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies