A culture of success: an examination of the life experiences and professional challenges of Mexican American female academic and student affairs administrators at four institutions in the University of Texas system
The purpose of this study is to examine and present the life experiences and professional challenges of Mexican American female student affairs and academic administrators. This study was conducted in order to document the strategies employed by Hispanic women who as part of an increasing national population yet with low levels of educational attainment, have succeeded in the higher education system and currently hold positions as Academic and Student affairs administrators. In order to provide a rich contextual understanding of the current underrepresentation of Mexican American females as academic or student affairs administrators, this study uses Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a methodology, a theoretical framework, and a critical lens. CRT allows for the questioning of the status quo, provides educational empowerment, addresses social justice, and utilizes a transdisciplinary understanding of racism, sexism, and classism in education (Solorzano & Yosso, 2001). The findings revealed Successful Mexican American female administrators as well adjusted in cultural identity, grounded in family, a strong work ethic, and the passion to make a difference. They surrounded themselves with support systems that included family members and friends. Professionally, they embraced institutions that supported the needs of Hispanic students, and, for this reason, chose to serve in communities where large Hispanic populations resided. Their cultural identification with the Mexican American culture was considered a source of pride and strength. As a result, resistance toward acculturation provided a strategy for success. The overarching story of this study is the signing of the Treaty of Hidalgo in which strength was gained through adversity. Participants through their maintenance of the Spanish language expressed a form of strength through resistance. Just as in the Treaty where use of Spanish was guaranteed yet discouraged, participant's use of language in their professional and personal lives reflects a form of strength that endures despite all circumstances.