College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bernadette Sanchez, PhD

Second Advisor

Susan McMahon, PhD

Third Advisor

Antonio Polo, PhD


There are currently 11 million immigrants of undocumented status in the United States, with over 80% comprising of Latinos. Latinos attain less education than other racial/ethnic groups, and immigrants of undocumented status face additional barriers to a higher education, such as being ineligible for federal financial aid. Using a resiliency framework, this study sought to identify the academic risk and protective factors affecting young Latinos of undocumented status in the United States. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 Latinos of undocumented status; eligible participants were between the ages of 16 and 30 who immigrated to the United States without authorization and have educational experiences within the United States educational system. Implementing a narrative approach, qualitative methodology was the primary mode of analysis. Results reveal themes related to academic risk factors specific to being of undocumented status, which were a financial demand for school, limited choices for college, and limitations of the DACA executive action. Themes related to academic protective factors fell into two types: personal and environmental protective factors. Personal protective factors were hope and determination, and a social responsibility to others; environmental protective factors were academic scholarships and awards, benefits associated with DACA, and natural mentors.

SLP Collection