Examining the first-year experiences and perceptions of sense of belonging among Mexican American students enrolled in a Texas HBCU
The growing Latino population is directly affecting institutions of higher education. Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), whose stated missions do not specifically address Latinos, are becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). As HSIs continue to emerge across the country, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are also responding to demographic shifts, especially in Texas. Although their historic mission focuses on educating African Americans, some Texas HBCU presidents and administrators maintain that their supportive campus environment could serve as a possible opportunity for Latino student success. HBCU outreach efforts offer a variety of areas for further investigation, but the intent of this study was to examine the first, critical year and perceptions of sense of belonging. Furthermore, since Mexican Americans represent the majority of Latinos in Texas, indeed the country, this qualitative study specifically focused on the first-year experiences of Mexican Americans in a Texas HBCU. The primary methods for data collection included two semi-structured one-on-one interviews, a student questionnaire, campus observations, and analytic memos. Thus, the current study sought to fully document the first-year experience and perceptions of sense of belonging as recounted by second- to fifth-year Mexican American students enrolled in a Texas HBCU.