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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 4. “Race Shouldn’t’ Matter, but It Does”



Racial Selves, Identities, and Belonging


This chapter explores the ways in which Antonio and Mario experienced and perceived “race” and belonging as they transitioned to CMU. These perceptions and experiences are inseparable from their identities during this time of transition; and part and parcel of their own identities are the ways in which their peers perceived and responded to them vis-à-vis race. Indeed, the notion of race is woven throughout all the participants’ transitions to college. It is, for example, in the fabric that contains their experience of K-12 schooling, access to certain forms of capital, and changing family relationships while becoming college students, all discussed throughout this book. It is inextricably tied to the participants’ experiences with as well as the design of the college access and support programs specifically addressed in Chapters 2 and 3. And it is of course omnipresent in the ways in which the students faced racism at CMU, explicitly examined in Chapter 5. While there are certainly other facets to their identities and personal experiences, it was race that repeatedly came to the foreground of my conversations with the students, no doubt in part because of their minority status at a predominantly White university.

Before delving into the students’ experiences with race, however, it is necessary to define the very concept of “race.” The notion that race is a ← 75 | 76 → social construct created to...

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