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Getting College Ready

Latin@ Student Experiences of Race, Access, and Belonging at Predominantly White Universities


Julie Minikel-Lacocque

Getting College Ready: Latin@ Student Experiences of Race, Access, and Belonging at Predominantly White Universities challenges the way we conceive of college access, retention, and success for underrepresented students writ large. Specifically, through presenting an in-depth, qualitative case study on six Latin@ students transitioning to a public, predominantly White university, it examines what the institution does, or doesn’t do, to meet the needs of these students. This book seamlessly combines the topics of college access and the transition to college for underrepresented students; it offers a comprehensive review of what we already know about underrepresented students in college and how they get there; it challenges some of this existing literature; and throughout, it weaves in the compelling voices and experiences of the study’s focal students and staff members tasked with supporting them. This thoughtful study demands that we reconsider the ways in which we understand college access, school success, college preparation, the tenuous relationship between religious fundamentalism and public education, and conceptions of race and racism. Indeed, this work calls into question what it means to be «college ready».
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Chapter 1. Student Portraits


← 12 | 13 →· 1 ·STUDENT PORTRAITS

In this chapter, I provide a portrait (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Hoffmann Davis, 1997) of each of the six students in this book. My aim, through using portraiture, is to help each student “come alive” for the reader and become the multifaceted, complex beings they are before moving into the subsequent chapters that focus on specific aspects of their lives. The portraits are meant to be accessible and free of academic language. As Lawrence-Lightfoot (1997) explains, “The attempt is to move beyond the academy’s inner circle, to speak in a language that is not coded or exclusive, and to develop texts that will seduce the readers into thinking more deeply about issues that concern them” (p. 10).


“So, how would your friends from back home describe you?” I asked Antonio, who was dressed in an oversized white T-shirt, baggy denim shorts, and perfectly clean white sneakers. He fiddled with the large pendant hanging from a thick gold chain around his neck as we wrapped up our first interview in a crowded Collegeville café.

← 13 | 14 → “Funny—like I’m a real funny guy, I guess,” he chuckled. “Uh, cool, laid-back. Calm, ’cause, yeah, I’m not good at rushing into things, so I take my time. Stuff like that. And I’m good to hang around with,” he finished, adjusting the backwards baseball cap that sat atop his dark, gelled hair.

Over the course of the study, as well...

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