Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Shannon Chavez-Korell

Committee Members

Markeda Newell, Leah Rouse, Marty Sapp


Educational Trajectories, Latinos, Participatory Action Research, Unauthorized, Undocumented, Undocumented Students


The following qualitative study used semi-structured qualitative interviews to investigate the educational trajectories of five undocumented Latinos who were either in the process of transitioning into a college program or had recently enrolled in a college program. An initial interview was conducted with each of the participants followed by a follow-up interview about 3-months after the initial interview was conducted. A Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach was used to carry out this research study. Therefore, collaboration with participants and key community members was essential throughout the entire research process. A research team was created to perform thorough data analysis and the following five themes emerged directly from the data using an iterative process including inductive and deductive methods: (1) Barriers Associated with Undocumented Status, (2) Supports that Facilitate the Navigation Process, (3) Education Greater than the Self (Collectivism), (4) Fears, and (5) Persistence despite Barriers to Education. Findings from this study were used to develop recommendations for policy makers and academic settings to help increase college access and facilitate the college navigation process for undocumented individuals. Results were also disseminated back to partnering agencies and the community in which data was gathered for further plan of action to advocate for educational rights for undocumented students and the re-implementation of in-state tuition.