Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Dr. James Valadez

Committee Members

Dr. James Valadez.,PhD Dissertation Chair

Dr. Philip Mirci, PhD Committee Member

Dr. Hamilton, EdD Committee Member


First-Generation Latinos, Academic Achievement, Motivation, Aspiration, Beating the odds, High School Graduation


Educational Leadership | Secondary Education


First-generation Latinos have endured challenges in an educational system that was not designed to serve or support them as they progress from kindergarten through high school. However, many first-generation students have beaten the odds through scholastic achievement, high school graduation, and acceptance to a four-year university. The intention of this study was to get a better understanding of what the determining factors are that help first-generation students overcome the challenges they face as they strive to succeed in high school, then obtain a college degree. The research also aimed to understand which intrinsic and extrinsic influences impact first-generation Latino students. Guided by social capital theory, this study used a qualitative approach to examine the high school experiences of eight first-generation Latinos attending a local university. The findings indicated that first-generation students are driven to succeed in high school via five interconnecting areas: encouragement from their parents, encouragement from teachers, programs and resources, thinking about the future, and aprovechar las oportunidades (taking advantage of the opportunities) an education offers. Each of this study’s eight first-generation Latinos currently attending a local four-year university experienced all five of the finding areas throughout their high school journey. The purpose now is to share these findings with my school site, which serves a significant large population of Latinos, so that we may continue to guide and support students who are going to college and strive to encourage, motivate, and inspire more Latinos to pursue a college degree.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


© 2019 Cynthia Oliveros

All Rights Reserved