Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award




Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jose Perez

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Rick Zomer

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Dean Campbell


For many first-generation Latino(a) college students, the college-setting is a new and scary place. Without the support of family and friends, the chances for them dropping out or not finishing their college education grow. Recognizing that Latinos(as) make up a growing segment of the college-going population, higher education institutions and their leaders must not only recruit individuals from this demographic population, but must also work to help these students remain enrolled and guide them to graduation. Institutions must be able to provide a welcoming campus culture and environment as a means of fostering student success. Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs), are credited with being a home away from home for many Black college-going students, and for providing educational opportunities that might not be accessible via other types of institutions. Today, some Latino(a) college students have chosen to enroll in these institutions seeking similar opportunity to grow and be successful. This doctoral study, using a narrative qualitative approach, examined the lived experiences of six Latino business students following their enrollment in one of the United States’ oldest HBCUs, first to understand what motivated them to enroll at such an institution, and second to understand the factors that helped them persist. Individual, semistructured interviews uncovered that proximity to family, cost, academic offerings, and available financial support all served as key factors for enrolling at the HBCU. In persisting, study participants lauded faculty for offering support, encouragement, and becoming an important component of students’ support network. Faculty, along with academic advisors, nonprofessional staff, and peer groups developed from classroom and student organization interactions, helped participants feel welcomed in the campus environment. Despite expressing positive opinions about the HBCU environment, participants acknowledged their own personal challenges in establishing themselves on campus, at times struggling with their academic and career choices. Without family members or pre-college peers to guide them, participants noted feeling alone early on in their college journey. Only after seeking out support or direction from others did they ultimately find their college footing. It is this lack of institutional engagement and guidance on student support resources that stood out amongst participant responses. Additionally, while ultimately finding acceptance on campus, some participants also noted making efforts to engage others rather than others engaging and reaching out to them. HBCUs must take steps to acknowledge and fully welcome their Latino(a) student populations. Institutional leaders must proactively gear services and communication efforts to consider this new demographic group’s needs and concerns. Only then will students and staff be more widely encouraged to extend the welcoming behavior and culture that HBCUs have long been lauded for.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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