Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Barbara Packer-Mutti

Abstract

Latinas face many challenges upon their matriculation to a university, including culture shock, acclimation and sense of belonging. Such challenges threaten their retention and success. Having support or a sense of belonging within higher education are notions that influence Latina students to continue or persist in school. An emphasized venue, which supports the educational journey of undergraduate Latinas, is involvement in organizations that reflect their culture. The problem addressed was the need to investigate how sorority involvement impacted their experience and persistence. Conducting research on Latina sorority membership and whether it has an impact on the experience and persistence of Latinas was important especially when focusing the discussion on predominantly White institutions (PWI) as research is scarce. Using a qualitative approach, the researcher set out to explore how membership in Latina-based sororities impacted the experience and persistence of Latinas in a predominantly White institution.

A total of nine women from four different sororities at a predominantly White institution in central Florida participated in this hermeneutic phenomenological approach which provided an opportunity to highlight and understand the lived experiences of the participants. Data collection methods included a demographic form and one-on-one interviews. Data received through these methods were analyzed using narrative analysis.

Four themes emerged from the data analysis – sisterhood, identity and sense of belonging, values and beliefs, and academic support. It was evident through the reiteration of themes and experiences that all participants’ membership had a profound impact on their collegiate experience. Participants reiterated that their respective organization provided a family/support system not expected, helped them with their cultural identity as well as secure a sense of belonging on a predominantly White campus. The nurturing of sisterhood and identity and sense of belonging are due to the shared experiences provided by their sorority membership. The pledging process appeared to provide experiences which helped the women become close-knit; experiences after their initiation further enhanced the sisterhood bond created. When discussing the academic support received, it was evident by participants’ responses that their organization provided resources to help navigate the academic system. However, all participants, including undergraduates, shared that they did not feel their membership, or the resources provided specifically contributed to their current or past academic success.

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