First-Generation Latinas: Experiences, Challenges, and Success in Higher Education

The Latina/o community falls short in education compared to non-Latina/o peers. The effects of existing obstacles to Latina/o degree attainment are essential to understand as colleges and universities explore innovative ways of increasing degree attainment for Latinas in higher education. Access to higher education not only contributes to higher wages but also leads to occupational stability in the workforce. A basic qualitative research study method was employed to examine Latinas’ college experiences, challenges, and successes throughout their college journeys. This study employs the intersectionality framework, which is an aspect of Critical Race Theory and Validation Theory. Intersectionality was used to identify experiences of oppression during the participants’ educational journeys, and Validation Theory was used to identify institutional support received during the participants’ education. The findings revealed the realms of Latinas’ college experiences and institutional challenges as they learned to navigate their college trajectory through perseverance, determination, and support from several university groups and individuals. The findings from this study begin to shed light on first-generation Latina students’ college trajectory by adding to the body of literature on their experiences in higher education.