Illuminating Filipina American voices : educational narratives of low income college graduates

Quemuel, Christine Angelita
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2014]
Very little research has been conducted on Asian American women college students, especially low-income Filipina American women college graduates. This study seeks to extend the existing literature and asks how race, class, and gender influence educational experiences and students' ability to navigate the educational pipeline in order to successfully graduate from college. Using a qualitative research design, this study brings low-income Filipina American women from the peripheries to the center and provides a space for their voices and experiences to be recognized. This project employed the theoretical and methodological lens of Critical Race Theory in education as well as narrative inquiry to examine Filipina American educational life histories and "counter-stories" to move beyond the model minority paradigm. The study examines women with deeply complex lives and experiences, some from immigrant families and most who are U.S. born, sometimes multiracial or multiethnic, and often having occupied more than one class status throughout their lives. The project provides important data to better understand the needs of Filipina American and Asian American and Pacific Islander women students so that colleges and universities can work better to support and serve them. The findings suggest that race, ethnicity, gender, class, and culture play tremendous roles in the experiences of Filipina/o American college students in Hawaiʻi. More specifically, this study illustrates how locally-specific racial stereotypes, prejudice, institutional discrimination, and family dynamics played key parts in the educational experiences of the research participants. The key themes that emerged in this study were: being Filipina/o (including stereotypes and gender differences), family and the level and types of family support, school expectations and institutional support, experiences with violence, as well as parenthood and the future. Implications for theory include reexamining how we understand the categories of "Filipino," "Filipina," and "Filipina/o American" that will further expand the ways that individuals and institutions understand and work with these students, broadening definitions to include the diversity and multiplicity of experiences that construct their lives. Implications for further research include focusing on women who did not complete college as well as those who successfully went on to graduate and professional schools, which would provide insight for universities and student services providers about what needs to be done to better support student success. Future researchers might develop theories and identity development models that do not rely on stages and unidirectional movement along a linear path. Perhaps future research might attend to other dynamics, like colonialism, geographic location or place and language, to be able to capture the educational experience of Filipina/o Americans. Future researchers could also compare the experiences of low income Filipino American male college students and conduct studies examining the differences between the experiences of low socioeconomic status Filipina/o Americans and those who are not struggling economically. Future research might also explore theories about intersectionality that incorporates the role of immigration generation in college experiences.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
gender differences
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