Exiting poverty: Experiences of resilient Mexican American women



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The primary purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of Mexican American women who self-identified that as children they grew up in poverty and as adults transitioned to the middle class. Through semi-structured interviews, the phenomenological experience of this transition was addressed. Not much is known about individuals who exit poverty and even less is known about Mexican American women who do so. This study thus expands the literature on resilience, ethnic minority groups, and Mexican American women. The present study explores individual, familial, and societal factors, operating and embedded, in the process of exiting poverty.

Six Mexican American women between the ages of thirty six and fifty one were interviewed about their experiences and interpretations of their exit from poverty into middle class life. The women were asked to respond to the question, "What was your experience getting out of poverty?"

The women's experiences of exiting poverty were interpreted using an interpretive phenomenological analysis. Several themes emerged: the importance of education in making this transition, belief and reliance on God and faith, and teachings from parents/family. Additionally, the women talked about being determined, going against the norm, and making conscious decisions to change their lives. This study therefore illustrates that the women, despite hardships, made the journey from poverty into the middle class.