“When You Want Something So Bad, You Can Always Do It:” Mexican Women Journeying from the GED to Community College Graduate in a Southwestern State
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The Hispanic population is the fastest growing population in the United States. Mexicans, who represent the largest Hispanic ethnicity, are also the most undereducated. Mexican women struggle between their roles as housewives and their desire to complete a higher education degree in order to improve their lives. The purpose of this study was to examine the internal (personal) and external (institutional) factors that influence female Mexican GED graduates’ persistence in completing associate’s degrees at a community college in southeast Texas. A basic interpretive approach was employed to frame this study and to collect and analyze data. The sample consisted of twelve female Mexican GED graduates in their second year of postsecondary education. Additionally, two secondary sources were used to collect data for the study: interviews with two academic counselors from the institution, and institutional data showing student demographics. A thematic approach was utilized to analyze data from the audio-recorded and transcribed interviews. The findings revealed that the institution played a significant role in facilitating the female Mexican GED graduates’ completion of their degrees. Supportive teachers, services such as counseling, and financial aid all had a strong impact on the participants’ persistence. The findings also showed that pregnancies at an early age caused major setbacks in connection with their educational pursuits. Yet the participants also pointed out the support they received from parents and other family members. While many of the participants’ parents did not themselves have high school diplomas, they had made education a priority for their daughters. A fourth finding suggests that the individual resilience of the participants played a significant role in their educational perseverance. The women in this study showed remarkable resilience in response to the many barriers they faced, overcoming these in order to remain in school through degree completion. The overall findings show that Mexican women who immigrate to the United States face significant obstacles with respect to earning their two-year college degrees. However, some of these women managed to complete their education by relying on supportive teachers, services, and family members. Most importantly, those who reached their educational goals showed great personal resilience and motivation to persist in order to provide a better life for themselves and their children.
Russo, Renata Ferreira (2014). “When You Want Something So Bad, You Can Always Do It:” Mexican Women Journeying from the GED to Community College Graduate in a Southwestern State. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from