‘I could see myself’: professors’ influence in first-generation Latinx college students’ pathways into doctoral programs

Bañuelos & Flores / Race Ethnicity & Education / August 2021

Latinxs are the second largest racial-ethnic group in the United States, yet they make up only 7% of all doctoral degree recipients. Latinx undergraduates are predominantly first-generation college students, who often have limited professional networks to guide their pathways into graduate school. Drawing on interviews with 25 first-generation Latinx college students, this study examines the ways they narrate professors’ influence in their pathways towards enrolling in doctoral programs. The authors find that first-generation Latinx students’ pathways into doctoral programs are heavily shaped by professors in the following ways: 1) institutional support; 2) disrupting or perpetuating the doctoral student archetype and; 3) social location congruence. The authors' analysis underscores that professors’ of any social location can provide networks and instrumental support, but Latinx doctoral students’ narrate their social capital, is tied to, and strengthened by, their Latinx co-ethnic professors’ possession of instrumental support, social networks, and relevant experiential knowledge and a critical consciousness.