Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Higher Ed/Community College Ed

Major Professor

Thomas Miller, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Paul Atchley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amber Dumford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.


Higher Education, Influence, Vice President, Women


Latina leadership in higher education is more important ever. This study provides an empowering understanding of the experiences of Latina Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAOs) in higher education in the U.S. and their practices related to wielding the power and influence associated with their roles. Latino Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) (Solorzano & Yosso, 2000), Intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1988), and Borderlands Theory (Anzaldua, 1987) served as a theoretical framework for this study and provides a basis for understanding the Latina experience from a critical perspective.

A testimonio research design was used to explore the following wonderments: (1) What meaning do Latina SSAOs ascribe to their positions as senior-level administrators? (2) How do race and gender influence how Latina SSAOs acquire and enact power in their roles? (3) What specific past and present catalysts do the student affairs officers perceive as most beneficial in positioning and supporting their work? Three Latina SSAOs participated in this study, which included participation in a 75 minute testimonio interview and timeline activity.

The outcome of the study reflect themes from the study, which reveal that gender and race influenced the experiences of these particular Latina SSAOs. The study’s outcomes additionally suggest that these women brought strengths and assets to their positions as a result of the positive power of their lived experiences. Furthermore, Latina SSAOs are influenced by present and past family dynamics, wield their power to help those around them, and move quickly through fears to get to yes.