Concrete Roses: Examining the Resilience of Academically Successful Latino Students
Alfaro, Daisy D.
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This study focuses on the academic resilience exhibited by urban, low-income, first college generation Latino students, as they navigated numerous risk factors and persisted from early education to law school. In order to uncover the protective factors that allowed resilient Latino students to overcome adversity within the K-20 educational pipeline, this study used academic resilience as a theoretical framework. Methodologically, a two-phase, qualitative longitudinal study (Creswell, 2007, 2009; Merriam, 2009) was used to capture the intricate experiences of nine academically resilient Latino students. Phase I examined the experiences of Latino students through the educational pipeline into law school and identified several protective factors that allowed the participants to persist. Phase II examined the process in which the factors identified in Phase I fostered resilience to and through law school. A phenomenological approach and elements of portraiture were utilized in Phase I and II in order to focus on the shared lived experience of a phenomenon and "unearth goodness" within this experience. Findings from the first phase identified familial, environmental, and institutional protective factors, which contributed to the persistence of the participants in the K-20 pipeline. Familial protective factors encompass two distinct components, parents and siblings. Each contains different characteristics that allow for resilience within the K-20 pipeline. The examples of perseverance, involvement, and high expectations exhibited by parents were found to be particularly effective in mitigating risk factors. The sibling components of the familial protective factor were found to consist of their older siblings showing them how to navigate their education, a sense of responsibility by the participant to do well in school so that they can set an example, and siblings telling them what not to do. Environmental protective factors emerged from the study in the context of community. These protective factors were discovered to occur in two precise ways. The first was in the form of the community acting in a protective fashion, which shielded the participants from several community risk factors. The second was seen within the participants' eventual transformation to the role of community protectors. Institutional protective factors were found to influence academic resilience. Specifically, teachers, college outreach programs, and sports proved to be the most relevant institutional protective factors in the P-12 trajectory. Service, experiential learning opportunities, early academic law outreach programs, and law school retention programs were found to be the most pertinent institutional factors in the postsecondary and law school experiences of the participants. The second phase of this study examined how these factors worked, evolved, and nurtured the participants' academic resilience. Findings also revealed that the participants' academic resilience was based on interactions between all of the protective factors identified in Phase I. The conceptual model proposed in this study suggested that the result of these interactions was a protective process that materialized into four individual protective factors: a positive disposition towards education, optimism, hard work, and giving back. These four individual protective factors were thus critical to the academic resilience of the nine Latino participants.
- Education - Seattle