College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Women's & Gender Studies


Latinas, higher education, testimonio, critical race theory, salir adelante


This thesis examines the challenges, difficulties, and triumphs of Latinas in higher education-the motivation of our families, the feelings of guilt and alienation, and the experiences of discrimination and marginalization. The analysis is developed through a close reading of the 22 testimonies in Jessica De Leon's book entitled Wise Latinas. The argument is that it is important to not only acknowledge the experiences of Latinas in higher education, but to also recognize how the issues, structures, and barriers are tied to larger structures of power and oppression. At the same time, the strategies of resistance and resilience are also grounded in the lived experiences of Latinas in our families and broader histories. The project is grounded in Critical Race Theory because it sheds light on the marginalization of people of color voices, and it affirms the use of testimonies as a form of theory making that helps Latinas to reclaim our space in academia and that validates our experiences and knowledge.