This phenomenological study explored the essence of the lived experiences of undocumented students attending a community college in Southern California. This study's purpose was to identify which issues challenged the students on a daily basis and to offer recommendations for community colleges to address the growing needs of this student population. This was achieved by conducting two focus groups and in person interviews with 12 participants. The research resulted in seven themes and five distinct recommendations.
The results indicated that the participants' families made the decision to immigrate the United States, and it wasn't until they were in high school that most of the participants realized their undocumented status. Their acculturation process included becoming the advocate and voice for their parents as they negotiated new educational systems and cultural norms. Familial influences and expectations factored significantly into the gender roles that each student was assigned. The participant's involvement in Improving Dreams, Equality and Success (IDEAS) was their introduction to activism and civic engagement and gaining a sense of empowerment. An important study finding is the need for institutional agents to develop comprehensive structures that address the mental health issues that undocumented students face. The ability to heal from this experience is vital for students to fully engage and increase their resiliency.
The findings support the need for academic institutions to take on a greater responsibility in making resources available to undocumented students to further enhance their academic, social, and political experiences while attending their institutions. Specifically, community colleges should work at offering more scholarships and grant aid to undocumented students and create an undocumented student resource center that will provide information and resources and address the leadership needs of the students. Finally the colleges must make a concerted effort to train staff to fully understand the undocumented student experience.
|School:||California State University, Fullerton|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Activism, Community College, Engagement, Higher Education, Undocumented Students|
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