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Las Enseñanzas de la Linea: Sense of Self and Academic Experiences of Latina/o/x Community College Students in the Tijuana-San Diego Borderlands


This qualitative dissertation explored how Latina/o students at Frontera Community College (FCC) made sense of their identities and community college experiences while traversing the Tijuana-San Diego borderlands. FCC is an HSI and one of the closest community colleges to the U.S.-Mexico border in California making this an important site of exploration, where students have distinct realities yet share the same space in pursuit of an education. Given the vastly political location of this study and widespread anti-Latina/o/x and immigration discourse prevalent during President Trump's administration, studying the role of space and geography on the lives of Latina/o/x students was of particular importance. With the foundations of critical race theory, Latina/o critical theory, critical geography, and Anzald�an borderlands theory, individual pl�ticas rooted in Chicana/Latina feminist epistemologies were conducted with ten Latina/o community college student collaborators. The Latina/o student collaborators largely identified as women, ranged in age from 18-28, consisted of U.S. citizens and residents, were first generation college students, lived in Tijuana, San Diego, or both, and had different language preferences. The findings on the enseñanzas de la linea or pedagogy of the border recognize how space is racialized, filled with contradictions, and a medium through which sociopolitical messages are advanced informing the identities and education of students. When considering the individual identities of students, the findings point to how students experience tensions in their racial and ethnic sense of self and practice performativity along a paisa to gringa spectrum as a navigational technique. At a group identity level, students recognize their opposing realities due to the heterogeneity of Latinas/os/x while also expressing a sense of collective unity. The data on the community college experiences addresses the spatially situated knowledges of students by highlighting a Tijuana, San Diego, and Transfronterizo sensibility. These sensibilities shape the educational barriers and opportunities faced including their community college entry pathways, commutes to campus, role of language, and classroom pedagogical practices. Drawing from student recommendations, a Fronterista Receptive Campus Culture model is offered to center the various enseñanzas de la linea and positively impact the entry pathways, retention, academic success, and career goals of students.

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