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Trespassing barriers: researching the experiences of Latina immigrants in a community college bilingual early childhood program




Volkers, Erica, author
Davies, Timothy, advisor
Aragon, Antonette, committee member
Banning, James, committee member
Valdez, Norberto, committee member

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There has been much debate on the politics and pedagogies of bilingual education in K-12 schools, but conspicuously absent in this debate are institutions of higher education. English-only ideologies are deeply embedded and rarely questioned in U.S. institutions of higher education, which predominantly require English language proficiency to access college-level coursework. Working within the intersections of critical race theory and participatory research, I engaged Latina immigrant students participating in a community college bilingual early childhood degree program as "research collaborators" in examining the influences of this program on their lives. Their stories, shared in a community narrative, reveal how this program opened the door to college access and empowered them as students, mothers, professionals, and advocates. In my discussion of our findings I highlight the capital Latina immigrant students bring to their academic journey, critique the English-only pathway to college, and underscore the importance of creating spaces for the voices of these students to be heard. Documenting our research journey, I also provide an analysis of the challenges and rewards of engaging students from a traditionally marginalized population as research collaborators.


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bilingual education
critical race theory
English language learners
higher education
Latina immigrants
participatory research


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