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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 7. “You’re Getting a Little Too Knowledgeable”



School Kids and Changing Family Relationships

In Chapter 6, we saw the ways in which Jasmine’s parents played a role in her schooling and the ways in which she felt their support. Her family was the foundation and the source of her Christian fundamentalist perspective and lifestyle; and, after Jasmine experienced significant conflict between the two worlds of her family (and the beliefs they raised her with) and her life at CMU, Jasmine ultimately chose to align herself with her family and her upbringing. In this chapter, I explore Engracia’s transition to CMU, paying specific attention to the role of her family in her schooling and her new life at CMU.

In notable ways, these two young women have much in common. Jasmine and Engracia are both young Latina women who grew up in large urban centers in the Midwest, and they are both from working-class families. Both are first-generation college students living away from home to attend prestigious, competitive CMU. Both women have lighter skin than many of their Latin@ peers and thus are not subjected to alienating stares from White students at CMU, as are, for example, Antonio and Moriah.

When it comes to academics, however, Jasmine and Engracia have virtually nothing in common. And, when it comes to the role of family in each woman’s schooling and transition to CMU, we see significant differences. ← 147 | 148 → The absence of a...

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