Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




As the largest post-secondary educational system, community colleges enroll nearly 35% of all college students (American Association for Community Colleges, 2014). However, the vast majority of students attending two-year institutions aspiring to vertically transfer (from community college to four-year institution), fall short of their academic goals and do not obtain a baccalaureate degree (Student Success Score Card, 2013). To this end, the extant literature has illustrated students of color, especially Latinx and African American students, transfer and graduate at disproportionately lower rates than their white counterparts. Qualitative researchers have explored this phenomenon; yet, often fall short of highlighting the specific experiences of students of color. Moreover, these studies regularly focus on the barriers or influencers that inhibit persistence, rather than exploring the narratives of students of color that successfully navigated the institutional systems. That said, this study investigated the experiences of Latinx students and how they overcame such obstacles towards four-year degree completion.

Through a Critical Race Theory analytical lens, this qualitative case study utilized Padilla, Treviño, Gonzalez, and Treviño's (1997) expertise model to frame the challenges faced by Latinx students, while using Yosso's (2005) community cultural wealth to conceptualize how they successfully navigated their experiences. Each theoretical perspective helped me design, organize and analyze data. Data collection primarily consisted of semi-structured interviews with Latinx students and university personnel. This study revealed the unwavering resolve students had to persist, despite encountering challenges on- and off-campus. Receiving support from campus allies, forming communities of resistance, and utilizing inherent skills, students spoke about how they successfully persisted and overcame various institutional deficiencies while pursuing their education goals. Findings have implications for community academic advisors, faculty, and future research.