So far from home : portraits of Mexican-origin scholarship boys

Carrillo, Juan Fernando
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Utilizing elements of Lightfoot and Davis’s (1997) portraiture method and life history interviews, this qualitative research study explores the portraits of four Mexican-origin scholarship boys. Two Mexican-origin students and two professors were selected from a snowball sample. A snowball sample consisted of gathering referrals from graduate students and faculty who contacted me through email to comment on their personal identification with the scholarship boy themes discussed in the essay I authored, "Lost in Degree: a Chicano PhD Student’s Search for Missing Clothes" (2007). I use the term “Mexican-origin” as a concept that identifies the subjects of this study as being of Mexican descent. All of the participants were born and raised in low SES, urban settings in the United States and they are children of Mexican-born parents. Hoggart’s (1957/2006) scholarship boy framework serves as the primary theoretical lens guiding this work. Rodriguez’s (1982) seminal work on this topic, Hunger of Memory, enumerates how this concept may apply to Mexican-origin scholarship boys. This study also utilizes Dubois’s (1903) double consciousness and Anzaldúa’s (1999) mestiza consciousness to analyze the ways in which Mexican-origin scholarship boys used culturally situated constructions of giftedness, “ghetto nerd” (Diaz, 2007) masculinities, and philosophical perspectives related to “home” to pursue academic excellence and cope/challenge the microgressions they experienced in K-12 schooling and higher education. The scholarship boys in this research provide critical information germane to the struggles and strategies used by academically successful Mexican-origin students as they negotiate the experiences related to the contrasting working-class culture of their upbringing and the middle-class culture of academia. While studies often focus on academically low-performing Latino students, this work explores the narratives of working-class Latino students who attained a graduate level education. Moreover, this research complicates clean “victory narratives” by unearthing various aspects of loss and gain inherent to the Mexican-origin scholarship boy trajectory. Findings inform scholarship in the areas of pedagogy, education reform, philosophy of education, education policy, curriculum, and revisionist conceptualizations of giftedness and human development.