Challenges of first-generation Hispanic college females : a collective case study exploring resources that lead to academic progress.
First-generation Hispanic female students are a growing population in Texas universities. As the state of Texas continues to increase in population and requires a significant demand for skilled and educated citizens, there is a sense of urgency to ensure that students who enter colleges and universities in the state are also completing their degrees. It is up to higher education institutions to see them through their educational endeavors. Hispanic first-generation females experience unique obstacles and journeys in higher education. Universities benefit in acknowledging their obstacles and identifying commonly utilized resources for student success so that universities can be intentional with student services to aid the persistence and degree completion of this demographic. A qualitative collective case study revealed the obstacles this population of students overcame and the campus and community cultural wealth resources they most utilized to persist in college. The researcher considered the community cultural wealth influences Yosso (2005) posited and how cultural capitals influence student success. The researcher also employed Nora’s Student Engagement Model to evaluate participant obstacles, their connection to the campus environment, and their utilization of on-campus resources that contributed to their success (Nora, 2003). In-depth interviews and a questionnaire provided descriptive data on first-generation Hispanic female experiences. The results indicated students rely heavily on peer support and faculty and staff mentorship as resources fostered by the institution. The participant’s obstacles did not align significantly with previously published research on student obstacles. However, the cultural capitals most used aligned with previous research, confirming how navigational and social capital, and familial and aspirational capital work in tandem. University administrators and individuals focused on student success can use the data to support first-generation Hispanic female students intentionally. Universities dedicate significant resources annually to student success programs. If universities desire to improve their efforts and effectiveness, they should better understand their students’ needs. Utilizing this knowledge to benefit an increasing population of first-generation Hispanic students on their campuses translates to an overall increase in retention, funding, and university outcomes.