Higher education pathways of Latino males in the United States: The narratives of Latino U.S. Congressmen from Southwest border states


Latinas/os are greatly impacting American higher education. Colleges and universities have focused their attention on finding distinct ways to meet the needs of this population. While enrollment rates have increased significantly for Latinas/os, degree completion rates trail other racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. (Nora & Crisp, 2009). Moreover, Latino males are least likely to complete a higher education and research indicates that this issue can be attributed to social, cultural, and institutional factors (Sáenz & Ponjuan, 2009).

In the context of research/data that demonstrate lower college completion rates for Latino males, the purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the educational pathways of three Latino U.S. Congressmen from the 113th Congress who successfully completed college and represent the Southwestern region of the United States (Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas).

Since limited research exists on Latino U.S. Congressmen, gathering and analyzing these narratives has potential to contribute new information to the body of current literature. These narratives have the potential to assist higher education personnel and policymakers with information to further develop/expand policies that support the higher education academic success of current/future Latinos.

In this qualitative research study, data collection occurred using semi-structured interviews, document review, and observation (Bowen, 2005). Data analysis was employed using Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth Model through Critical Race and Latino Critical Race Theoretical lens. Six themes emerged in this study: 1) desire to become educated, 2) value of receiving, 3) importance of family in the educational pathway, 4) desire to serve, 5) value of giving back, and 6) importance of family in the political pathway.

Latinos, Higher Education, U.S. Congressmen, Latino Males