Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Education for Social Justice

Dissertation Committee

Reyes L. Quezada, PhD, Chair Gail F. Baker, PhD, Member Kenneth P. Gonzalez, PhD, Member


Latinx community college, academic achievement, Arrupe College, Dougherty Family College, critical race theory, Latino critical theory, deficit thinking, culturally relevant pedagogy, community cultural wealth, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Gina Garcia


One of the most common and important entry points into higher education for Latinx and other underrepresented students is through community college. However, national completion rates for Latinx community college students have been trailing their white peers. This gap in academic achievement has prevailed since the 1990s. The trailing rates of degree completion for Latinx students can lead to lower lifetime salary earnings, lack of career advancement, greater risk of losing employment, and an increased chance of living in poverty. However, a successful community college model may be seen as a disruptor in the educational sector due to its much higher completion rate for Latinx students: the model at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago and Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences of Latinx students and explore what contributed to their academic success at Arrupe College and Dougherty Family College. A qualitative study was undertaken using foundational texts and frameworks on critical race theory and Latino critical theory to discover insights into the academic success of Latinx students at the two institutions. Factors such as community cultural wealth and critically relevant pedagogy were also reviewed to see if they contributed to student success. Findings of the study revealed a significant correlation of community cultural wealth, culturally relevant pedagogy, and Garcia’s six practices for Hispanic-serving institutions, which provided the theoretical framework for Latinx academic achievement at Arrupe College and Dougherty Family College.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Learning and Teaching