Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Cultural Trailblazers: Exploring the Career Development of Latina First-Generation College Students

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Cultural Trailblazers: Exploring the Career Development of Latina First-Generation College Students

Article excerpt

Approximately 41% of Latinos/as nationwide, ages 20 years and older, have not obtained a high school diploma (Fry, 2010). Yet, recent statistics from the Pew Research Center (2014) have identified that Latino/a enrollment of 18 - to 24-year-olds in all colleges, including those enrolled in community colleges and 4-year institutions, now exceed 2 million students in the United States. Despite these promising numbers, only 13% of Latinos/as have attained at least a bachelor's degree (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). With unstable economic conditions in the United States, a college degree is often deemed a necessity in career development and choice, particularly for marginalized groups of Latino descent (Storlie, Moreno, & Portman, 2014). For Latinas specifically, culture, values, and life roles are primary variables influencing the career decision-making process (Brown, 2002), including the pursuit of a college degree. Latinas in the United States and currently in college are frequently the first in their families to pursue a college education (Arredondo, Gallard°Cooper, Delgado-Romero, & Zapata, 2014). Taken together, Latina first-generation college students may struggle with discerning traditional life roles and values that compete with an individualistic higher education system, thus affecting their career development. Moreover, uncertain expectations, decreased self-esteem, lower self-efficacy, and less encouragement from parents to attend college can be daunting and demoralizing (Hahs-Vaughn, 2004), creating more career barriers for this diverse population of female college students.

Although empirical research supports the examination of constructs that influence college degree attainment among minority populations (Tinto, 2004), quantitative studies do not capture the impact, meaning, or complex developmental experience of being both Latina and a first-generation college student in the United States. An in-depth understanding of the culture, values, and life-role salience experienced by Latina first-generation college students is essential to elucidate their complex career development trajectory and to better serve the needs of this highly diverse group of students increasingly present on college campuses (Fry & Lopez, 2012).

Latino/a Career Development

Latinos/as, in general, experience a variety of career development concerns and are subject to multiple challenges and barriers in the world of work. Language barriers, unsafe working conditions, and low paying jobs can challenge career worldviews (Arredondo et al., 2014), in addition to the historically low academic achievement scores among the Latino/a population (Azmitia, Cooper, & Brown, 2009). Although the number of bachelor's degrees granted to Latinos/as was at an all-time high in 2011 (8.5% of all conferred baccalaureate degrees), Latinos/as still trail behind in the total number of 4-year degrees conferred (Fry & Lopez, 2012) and have the lowest percentage of attainment of all U.S. ethnic groups (Reyes & Nora, 2012), justifying a need for career development services now more than ever.

Systemic challenges within the family and the academic system contribute to these low statistics, particularly when there is competition between family values and the requirements of the academic system (Dotson-Blake, Foster, & Gressard, 2009). Latina students, in particular, may be expected to fulfill family role obligations that conflict with the expectations and values of an American education system (Leong, 1993; Tseng, 2004). These roles and responsibilities may include caretaking of dependent family members, emotional and financial support, and spending considerable time with primary and extended family members (Tseng, 2004). This dissonance between culture, family values, and life roles among Latina students may further influence alarming high school dropout rates in Latino/a majority states (Arredondo et al., 2014). High poverty levels and limited workplace opportunities have prevented many Latinas from accessing higher education (Zunker, 2002). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.