Administrators and Researchers


Marginalized narratives in the academy: One Chicano's story of his journey in American Higher Education.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Date Issued

January 2004

Date Available

August 2014


Marginalized Narratives in the Academy: One Chicano's Story of His Journey in Higher Education arose out of my desire to assign words to an experience that has encompassed three institutions of higher education in the United States. Originally, I thought that I would interview a select group of Chicano college students in an effort to explore how their experiences in college influence their identity as Chicanas/os. I was seeking to know how they constructed their realities within predominantly White institutions. I wanted to learn from their experiences in settings where their culture as Chicanos is not reflected in the day-to-day tapestry of life. I sought to identify in what ways they ascribed meaning to their experience as members of a marginalized population in colleges and universities today. Most of all, I wanted to understand how they survived or indeed thrived. In reviewing the literature regarding the low graduation rates for Chicano college students, I came across the following statistic: Beginning with a cohort of 100 students, only 55 Chicanos. . . will graduate from high school, compared with 83 White students and 72 blacks. Of the 100, only 22 Chicanos. . . will enroll in an institution of higher education, compared with 38 Whites and 29 blacks. Only seven Chicanos. . . out of 100 will complete college, compared with 23 Whites and 12 Blacks" (de los Santos as cited in Aguirre and Martinez, 1993, p. 4). The sobering reality that Chicanos are becoming lost in the system and are not graduating from college proved a stark reminder that something is dreadfully wrong. How did these seven students, mentioned above complete their college degrees? In addition, what social and personal sacrifices arose for them as they made their way through college? As a Chicano first generation college student, I wanted answers to these questions. My research interests are personal. Acknowledging this purpose caused me to ask myself the very questions that I would use to guide a qualitative study. Discovering that I was not able to answer them easily sparked my desire to delve into my own narrative for perspective. As this reflective process unfolded, I realized that my curiosity ran deeper than previously thought. I wanted to unravel the complexity of my ongoing relationship with racism within the context of three distinct college environments. Scholarly and personal, this dissertation is a reflection of my narrative as it has interacted, reacted, and become interwoven with the narratives of higher education and race. Oftentimes, experience is dismissed as merely personal but I argue it is experience that offers knowledge to society about the intricate relationship between power structures, self, and theory. In this dissertation, I attempt to share my experience with racism and apply story to my own racial identity developmental process. It is this three dimensional relationship that I believe gives those who work with college students insight into knowledge that to often goes unrecognized. An expression of one's identity may provide insights into the complex nature of these relationships (Moya, 2002).


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University of Vermont, Burlington

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