Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kevin A. Yelvington, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Beatriz Padilla, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher L. Busey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kiran C. Jayaram, Ph.D.


Identity, Identity Formation, Ethnoracial Experiences, Applied Anthropology


Education research in the United States has vastly excluded Afro-Latinx and Afro-Latin American college students from the canon. Afro-Latinx and Afro-Latin American college students are presented with unique challenges and opportunities for identity exploration and development at the university level. As Schwartz, Kurtines, and Montgomery argue, higher education institutions extend emerging adulthood or the period in which individuals explore identities and develop a sense of self (Shwartz, Kurtines, and Montgomery 2005). Education research in the United States has historically centered around US-based racial formation, suggesting that Blackness and Latinness are mutually exclusive, what researchers Christopher Busey and Carolyn Silva refer to as the “Brown monolith myth” or the homogenization of Latinness (Omi and Winant 2014; Busey and Silva 2020). The exclusion of Afro-Latinx and Afro-Latin Americans from the education research literature minimizes the diversity of experiences of the Latinx/Latin American ethnic community.

This ethnographic study takes qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with fifteen self-identified Afro-Latinx and Afro-Latin American collegians. It is a subset of a larger research project sponsored by the University of South Florida’s Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC). This study aims to contextualize the ethnoracial experiences of these students, mainly seeking to comprehend their identity formation by examining processes of inclusion/exclusion, representation, access to resources and mentoring opportunities, country of socialization, and migratory statuses. Conclusively, this thesis argues that higher education institutions sometimes assist in strengthening or reshaping the identities of Afro-Latinx and Afro-Latin American college students and higher learning institutions can benefit greatly from understanding their impact on the forming of these students’ identities to better serve them by acknowledging their presence on campus and facilitating an on-campus sense of belonging amongst this student population. Furthermore, this thesis contends that the emerging literature on Afro-Latinx collegians has failed to acknowledge the importance of country-of-origin socialization and migratory statuses.

Included in

Education Commons