Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Hispanic American women college students-Psychology, Hispanic American women college students-Social conditions, Hispanic Americans-Ethnic identity, Minority college students-Ethnic identity, Latina, Persistence, College students, Multicultural, Retention, Academic achievement


This study sought to gain an overall understanding of the experiences of Latinas that attend predominately white institutions (PWI). The research question explored was: What are the experiences that contribute to persistence, defined as continuing toward degree completion, for Latinas that attend PWI? Seven Latina students participated in each focus group conducted at two small, predominately White, liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. Participants were asked questions about their general college experiences, persistence experiences, family experiences, coping strategies, and recommendations. The study findings for Latinas attending PWI included beneficial and challenging experiences. Sharing their culture with others, being role models within their families and communities, acquiring knowledge from diverse groups of people, and gaining social privilege were cited as beneficial experiences. Participants' were found to experience minority status stresses and cultural incongruity that led to sociocultural alienation. Seeking support from their peers, with a shared experience, was found to be the most utilized coping strategy. Debunking negative stereotypes about Latina/os, experiencing or witnessing racism, poverty and oppression, being positive role models in their families and communities, making their families proud, and gaining social and economic privileges were experiences contributing to persistence.




iii, 106 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 94-98)