Doctoral experiences of Latina students: Examining ethnic identity and successful completion



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Graduate education is essential to America’s overall global competitiveness and national security; a highly trained, educated workforce is crucial to the success of a knowledge based society (Wendler, et al., 2010). Cortese (2003) contends that post-secondary institutions play a vital role in cultivating the culture and civilization of current societies. The importance of graduate education is reflected in the ground-breaking practices used by these institutions to create research, convey knowledge via education, and to participate in the advancement of our workforce (Kienle & Loyd, 2005). As graduate education plays a critical role in our ever growing, multicultural society, research conducted on the role that graduate education plays in various racial and ethnic populations such as the Latina female population, becomes imperative. Using Critical Race Theory and Latino Critical Race theory, this study identified factors which influenced Latina women to pursue their doctorate and, of these factors, which navigation strategies contributed to successful completion of the doctorate. The findings demonstrated that the ethnic identity of Latina female participants significantly correlated with total social support consisting of members of the university, friends, significant others, family, and the university environment in regard to successful completion of the doctorate. Additional findings of the study found that factors such as financial aid in the form of scholarships and loans played an important role in participants’ success.