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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Navigating Critical Terrain: The Decision Making Process of Undocumented Latina/o Graduate Students

  • Author(s): Lara, Argelia
  • Advisor(s): Solorzano, Daniel G
  • et al.
Abstract

This qualitative research study examines the experiences of undocumented Latina/o graduate students. Specifically, the study explores how undocumented students have navigated entrance into graduate school and how their immigration status has impacted their educational and occupational aspirations. Utilizing a Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) framework this study challenges forms of racism that exist through immigration policies and laws that limit the opportunities for undocumented students. The study draws on a Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) model, and argues that undocumented college graduates utilize forms of capital embedded in their culture and communities of support to navigate institutions of education and successfully obtain their degrees. The study employs an oral history methodology with 20 Latina/o students attending the University of California or California State University System at the time of the study. The study provides insight into the lived experiences of undocumented students and how those experiences inform how they strategize and mobilize key resources in higher education. Additionally, this work has important implications for educational practitioners and policy makers interested in broadening post-baccalaureate access for this student population.

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