Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Second Advisor

Glenn Gabbard

Third Advisor

Judy Márquez Kiyama


This dissertation examines the role of identity development in multiethnic Latino students' sense of belonging in college. Although this is a growing population in colleges and universities across the country, the experiences of multiethnic Latino students have been underexplored in academic research. While identity development is a complex process for all individuals, students whose heritage reflects more than one racial or ethnic background often experience contention with identity development because they are continuously defining and redefining themselves in an attempt to fit in on a college campus (King, 2008; Nishimura, 1998). The presence of multiethnic Latino students on college campuses, coupled with social and cultural factors that may influence their identity and success has led to the need to better understand the dynamics that support their experiences in higher education, including the development of sense of belonging to the colleges they attend.

Theoretical contributions include the Multiethnic Latino Student Identity Development Model, which was developed based on 14 individual student testimonios and two collective testimonios. The model depicts the role of social identities--race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation in the development of identity that is fundamental to the multiethnic Latino student identity development experience. These social identities, coupled with pre-college schooling, family influence, and neighborhood influence lead to the three multiethnic Latino student identification patterns--monoethnic identity, multiethnic identity, or broad Latino identity. Although one of these identifications is primary in each student's experience, considerable fluidity exists among the three categories. As students take these identifications to the college campus, various factors in that environment further influence how they choose to identify. Multiethnic Latino students draw on ethnic flexibility to move through the campus environment; however, the college environment does not always support this movement across all social spaces. Implications for practice include the need to better understand identity intersectionality among multiethnic Latino students to create more welcoming environments, critical analysis of faculty pedagogy for improving multiethnic Latino student academic success, and overall understanding of how identity is structured and created on a college campus.


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