Narratives of Successful Navigation: A Sociocultural Study of Self-identified Latin@ Undergraduate Students
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Narratives of successful navigation are the personal stories of 13 Latin@ undergraduate students who navigated the public school system and completed high school in the United States. Their words recount their individual journeys resulting in their enrollment at a 4-year research university in the Pacific Northwest as opposed to a 2-year community college. More than half of the study respondents begun their postsecondary studies at a community college. The navigation of these particular individuals were experienced differently than those respondents whose trajectory led them straight into the university. Three categories corresponding to the study’s three research questions were analyzed. First, common challenges produced two themes, low social economics status (SES) and ethnic identity. Second, the category on persistence characteristics formulated only one construct, academic self-efficacy. Third, three interlocking themes of supportive factors fostering academic success were identified, the support of parents/ family members/peers, non-familial agents in the form of teachers, and lastly college readiness including AP or honors coursework. The thematic analysis of the respondents’ stories was influenced by the literature that documents challenges historically impeding Latin@ academic achievement and by the research on both persistence and supportive factors. The analyses of the individual navigational experience of the study participants found similarities within their experiences, but it also revealed the complexity of their own singular stories. The study centered more on the aspirations of Latin@ students rather than the damaging effects of their schooling experiences. While some of the respondents’ stories contain examples of challenges, the premise was in representing examples of successful navigation of the Chican@/Latin@ education pipeline (Solórzano, 1998).