This summer I got the opportunity to participate in the UCSB ARC (Academic Research Consortium) summer program and traded the ideally desired weather of sunny San Diego, for the equally desirable weather of Santa Barbara. I know, such a difficult transition. This is probably why I easily adapted to the Santa Barbara lifestyle of using flip flops, being at a close proximity to the ocean and oh- did I mention getting into frequent bike accidents? Oh yes, it is a true fact that vicious bikeriders control the streets of UCSB. But to be fair, riding a bike is useful when getting around campus. Now that I have expressed my negative encounters with bicyclists, let me enlighten you about the background of my current research.
This fall semester I will begin my last year at San Diego State University studying Sociology. As a sociology student, I am often perceived as the vibe-killer, or the person with a pessimistic view. Although we do discuss about fairly depressing subjects (hence “commit sociology”), the true objective of a sociologist is to produce meaningful descriptions of organizations or events, give valid explanations of their origin and persistence, and to provide realistic proposals and solutions for the advancement or removal of these organizations or events
During my time as a sociology student, I have realized that reality is transformed through critical reflection, and action. As a mentor and tutor of low income, first generation college students in an after school program in San Diego, I have questioned the particular problems that students face in school and within their social context. At this point in my life, I am reflecting about the hurdles that students face in school settings, many of which limit them from taking action in pursuing higher education..
The U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey of 2014, demonstrates the educational attainment of 36 million Hispanic students enrolled in U.S. schools over time. From this population 30.3% graduated from high school, 17.4% entered college but did not receive a diploma, 3% received an Occupational Associate’s Degree, 4.1% received an Academic Associate’s Degree, and 9.4% obtained a Bachelor’s degree. This data also revealed that only 3% of the Hispanic students obtained a master’s degree, .4% obtained a Professional degree and .53% obtained a Doctoral Degree as of 2014.
My experience as a tutor and my concern for Latinos low level of educational attainment has led me to research on issues pertaining to Latina/o students transition into Higher Education under the mentorship of Dr. Rebeca Mireles-Rios from the department of education at UCSB. In this research project, I have analyzed interviews depicting the relationships between Latina/o students and their teachers. For example, I have noted patterns in the ways that Latina/o students perceive their teachers, how the students think teachers perceive them, and the types of advice and information about college teachers provide. This is important because teachers are often the college graduates that latina/o students are exposed to the most, however Latina/o students often do not reach out to them for information regarding their academic goals.
After my graduation in Spring 2016, I plan to continue my educational pursuits by going into a graduate program in Education focusing in Cultural Development. In spite of the ferocious bikeriders I have encountered, this research experience has given me a first hand understanding of the rigorous, fatiguing, yet rewarding process of conducting research.