Latina Women at Columbus State University: The Struggle to Persist


Sharon Seneca

Date of Award





Doctor of Education


Counseling, Foundations & Leadership


The Hispanic population in the United States increased tremendously over the years and Latinos are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States. The growth of the Latino community changed the face of the nation. Latina women are projected to account for a third of the total female population by the year 2060.

This growing segment of society represented untapped human capital, much of which has yet to be discovered and utilized. The Latino population at Columbus State University has also increased over the years. While the numbers of Latino students continued to increase, the fact that Latino students accounted for less than 5% of the total undergraduate student population and less than 1% of the total graduate student population was problematic. Numerous factors combine to contribute to the lived experiences of Latina women in higher education.

The Latina experience at Columbus State University had not been fully explored. Therefore, the researcher sought to examine the lived experiences of Latina students at Columbus State University in attempt to identify information that could prove helpful for the recruitment, enrollment, and retention of this growing diverse population. A qualitative study utilizing a narrative research design was conducted to explore the lived experiences of Latina students at Columbus State University.

The study consisted of semistructured interviews with eight participants comprised of open ended questions regarding experience, representation, inclusion/acceptance, freedom of expression, challenges faced, motivation to persist, campus climate and recommendations. Analysis of the data produced nine emergent themes which impact the lived experiences of Latina students at Columbus State University including diversity, representation, stereotypes, identity, inclusion/acceptance, challenges faced, motivation to persist, campus climate, and recommendations.

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