Date of Award



© 2019 Zwisel M. Gandía

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Marylin Newell

Second Advisor

Gizelle Luevano

Third Advisor

Rosalind Alderman


This phenomenological qualitative study examined the Hispanic/Latino students’ college experiences at Predominantly White, 4-year institutions in an effort to better understand what these students perceived as contributing factors to their sense of belonging and persistence through their first year. Participants included individuals classified as first-year or second-year college students. Data was collected through individual interviews where personal stories were examined by using the student integration model and theory of mattering and marginality to identify reoccurring themes. Identifying these factors was the key motivating factor in determining success and persistence through their first year. From this study, four emergent themes shed light into students’ ability to persist: sense of belonging, student involvement, mentoring, and familial expectations. These themes aided the researcher’s understanding about which factors students attributed to their overall success and first-year persistence.


Ed.D. Dissertation