Latina academic success: the role of K-12 school experiences and personnel
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This qualitative study investigated the role that K-12 teachers and other school personnel as well as school experiences such as classes, extracurricular activities and empowerment programs played in the academic success of six Latinas enrolled in a selective Texas university. The participant group attended the same foreign language magnet program from grades six through twelve, making it possible to study their collective school experiences over an extended period of time. The data was collected using individual interviews with the participants and the teachers and other school personnel that the participants identified as having made a significant contribution to their academic careers. Based on the data analysis, the students were identified as having either “low social capital” or “more social capital” resources to further their academic success. The key findings of the study were: (1) It was necessary for students to become enmeshed in the school community network of resources to build the social capital connections needed to pursue a higher education. (2) For students with low social capital resources the school was the primary source of social capital connections that enabled them to pursue a post-secondary education. (3) For students with greater social capital resources, the school worked as an important partner with the family to enhance the students’ academic success. This study is significant because it deconstructed the interactions between students and teachers to differentiate between those teachers who were emotionally supportive and those teachers who helped students build social capital connections that enabled them to be accepted into a selective university and to continue to be academically successful at the university level.