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TitleUndocumented Students, Institutional Allies, and Transformative Resistance: An Institutional
TagsUniversity Of California
File Size817.7 KB
Total Pages211
Table of Contents
                            1. Ask if they want to share demographic info such as: family size, hometown, educational background, age, race/ethnicity, generational college status, on leave/part time/full time attendance, course load, housing, year in school, transfer/direct-entr...
2. Where are you enrolled and why did you choose SRU?
3. Describe your experience as an undocumented student at SRU.   What is a typical day/week/quarter/year?
4. Tell me about your involvement with other students? Are your friends primarily other undocumented students? Off-campus?
5. What are the challenges you have faced as an undocumented student at SRU?
6. What people at the university whom you find to be particularly supportive/helpful and least helpful? Consider, for example, students, faculty members, administrators, and staff.
7. How would describe the campus climate/environment in regards to undocumented students?
8. Have you shared your status with any administrators or faculty members at (name of institution)?  Why or why not?  If so, who? How and why?  Have they been able to offer any assistance to you?  If so, how?
9. Have you partnered with any administrators or faculty members to address your concerns?  If so, how?  What is your experience with faculty or staff?
10. Besides those whom you have contacted, has the institution offered any other form of support to address any of the educational challenges you identified?
11. Where do you feel most comfortable on campus?
12. Have you engaged student-initiated efforts?
13. Are there any areas of the campus you feel is most helpful?  What do you believe is the source of support within that area of the campus?
14. Are there any areas of the campus you feel is least helpful?  What is the nature of your interaction with those areas of campus?
15. What can the institution do to better serve you and students with similar circumstances?
16. What are three key things you think the institution should know to better serve undocumented students?
17. Are you aware of student services and do you feel welcome to use them as an undocumented student?
Document Text Contents
Page 1

UCLA Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Publication Date

Page 2


Los Angeles

Undocumented Students, Institutional Allies,

and Transformative Resistance:

An Institutional Case Study

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the

requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy

in Education


Angela Chuan-Ru Chen


Page 105


college, I was really insecure and I think part of that was from not being able to go from
high school to university. I failed myself in some way. But I think for me the most
impossible goal was to getting into SRU.…So I had some money. I came to SRU. I paid
for it myself. My scholarship took a long time getting here. I barely made my payments
on time the second quarter.…So it was really scary actually being here after I had so
much wanted to be here. I think the younger I was, the bigger my dreams were, and the
older I was, the more responsibilities I had and the more weight I had on my shoulders,
and the different choices I had to make.

His sound financial decision to attend a community college made him feel “insecure” and that he

“failed” himself in some way. His decision to attend community college added another

dimension to his identity. Interestingly, there was a discrepancy between the stigmatization he

internalized as a community college student and his experience as a student there. He noted that

community college was where he found meaningful communal support. In fact, he returned to

his community college to find work and a sense of community after he had transferred to SRU.

He continued,

I'm going back to my community college. I was hesitant to do that because I had it in my
mind that once you leave community college, you shouldn't go back. You're at the newer,
bigger, more prestigious, 4-year university. But I did. And I have friends there and I
knew who to talk to, to set up flyers and could help me advertise my tutoring.

As with most transfer students in this study, they were largely satisfied with their

community college experience, but felt frustrated with their limited postsecondary options

coming out of high school.

Institutional allies also recognized the community college pathway was an essential

option for undocumented students. In Samuel’s outreach to community college students, he

noted that,

A lot of AB540 undocumented students do take the transfer route and they go to
community college as their first point of entrance into higher education. So we do have a
lot of students who are part of our programs who are undocumented and took that route
because it would be cheaper to pay rather then to go into 4-5 years into a bachelor
granting institutions.

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Allies such as Samuel emphasized the importance of strengthening the bridge between

community college to a bachelor-granting institution as a way to continue the pipeline for

underrepresented students, including undocumented students. Interestingly, the issue of

community college is where this data shows the greatest discrepancy between student and ally

responses. Some students viewed it as a highly undesirable option, and it was also difficult for

counselors to recommend the community college route to students. For example, Sarah, a direct-

entry student at SRU, recalled her experience with her high school counselor.

I went to talk to a counselor and then when my mom told him that I didn't have papers he
basically advised us to just go to community college cause anything else wasn't going to
be possible.

This interaction left her feeling pessimistic about their postsecondary options. Sarah felt tracked

into the community college path after revealing her status to her high school counselor, advice

that she saw as inconsistent with her academic competitiveness for direct-entry into selective

universities. She concluded that that her status was the cause for the cooling out effect (Clark,


There were allies in this study who believed strongly in the benefits of community

college and recognized that advising students in that direction could have an unintentional and

discouraging impact. Allies were perplexed by how they should discuss this college option with

undocumented high school students without steering students’ away from their dreams. The

following two allies, Harry and Evelyn, expressed the dilemma they experienced in advising

students in the college choice process.

I find it's the toughest thing to deal with because you can't deal with someone that is
thinking with their heart. And I've talked to valedictorians and if you tell them to go to
community college it's not something they would want to do or something that their
families wants them to do. But the reality is that it's an option and that's what I want
students to understand—that it's an option. In my option, at this time, it's the best option,
no matter what money you got, unless you have a full ride somewhere.

Page 210


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