First Advisor

Karen Haley

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Postsecondary Education


Educational Leadership and Policy




Hispanic Americans -- Education (Higher), Belonging (Social psychology), Academic achievement, Hispanic American college students -- Social networks, Persistence



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 233 pages)


The changing landscape of higher education calls for a shift in approach to ensure that all students are given not just the opportunity but also the environment in which to succeed. In order to facilitate the growing demand for a diverse workforce, universities must work to retain students and support them sufficiently as they move toward graduation. Student persistence rates from year one to year two show markedly different rates based on race and ethnicity with the lowest persistence rates associated with Latinx and Black students. National projections of college attendance by race and ethnicity predict that Latinx students will be the fastest-growing group attending college over the next ten years. This growth, coupled with the need for improvement in persistence rates, presents an opportunity for universities to enhance their support of Latinx students, improve the institutional bottom line, and increase the diversity of the educated workforce in the United States. Student sense of belonging is tied to persistence in college and is influenced by their experiences inside and outside the classroom. Students in this study demonstrated aspirational capital through their drive to make their parents proud and their clear future vision for themselves. Students relied on their social, familial, and navigational capital to support them as they adjusted to college and when they faced difficulty persisting. Placing the experience of persisting Latinx students at the center of this research, using interviews and photo-elicitation to form a qualitative case study, I demonstrated how student experiences in a school of business at a predominantly White public university influenced their sense of belonging and how their cultural wealth propelled them to persist toward graduation.


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