The journey into a New me: Narratives of self-development and community revitalization among first-generation, Latinx, adult graduate students

Journal of Adult & Continuing Education / May 2020

UCLA student group

This study explores the narratives of first-generation, Latinx graduate students whose parents emigrated from Mexico. We aimed to understand the life trajectories of six participants, particularly the ways in which they made sense of graduate education (MA and EdD) as part of their personal journeys, identity and practice as educators. Focus groups and image elicitation techniques allowed us to learn from our participants. Participants’ narratives about their life journey were our unit of analysis. Our results suggest that participants pursued graduate school as a tool to engage in self-actualization and to revitalize their families and communities. Central to our findings is the role that trauma played in the approach they used to engage in graduate education. Trauma worked as a catalyser to seek transformative learning experiences that could help them not only expand their selves but also the community where they serve. Students’ re-framing of personal trauma encouraged them to persist in graduate education and consolidate their service-oriented missions.