Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Deborah Faye Carter

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Dina Ceralde Maramba

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gilda Laura Ochoa

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Alonzo Campos


Aspirational Capital, California Central Valley, College Access, College Transition, High School, Latina/o/x

Subject Categories

Education | Ethnic Studies


Making the decision to attend and pursue college as a means of social mobility is an option students in the state of California make every year when graduating high school. Scholars have contributed extensively to understand how students prepare and transition into their first year of college, as well as the benefits and outcomes that allows students to acclimate and succeed. The multiple factors that contribute to students’ acclimation into higher education has been a central point. The aim of this study was to explore how Latina/o/x students from California’s Central Valley navigated their college transition in the first year by drawing from their high school experiences and a summer youth conference, Chicanas/os LEAD. Through conducting 21 semi-structured interviews, data were analyzed using zoom platform to explore their education experiences. This study found that students cultivated a college-going mindset in high school, engaging in everything that was available to them, including college preparation programs such as AVID and TRiO. Additionally, part of cultivating a college-going mindset included students’ contributions on and off campus being actively involved in extra-curriculars that included ASB and community service opportunities. This study also found that attending the summer youth conference, Chicanas/os LEAD, cultivated students’ aspirations and validations by what the program offered: a cultural wealth of knowledge and information rooted in community, culture, college access, career aspirations, leadership, and civic engagement. I present an emerging theory and argue that students in this study were given ánimo (encouragement) that draws from ganas, critical consciousness, and aspirational capital. Finally, this study found that when students entered college, they were able to reap the benefits of their labor from having cultivated college-going mindsets and transitioned at their respective colleges by actively contributing to leadership opportunities and establishing supportive networks on campus. This study finds that culturally relevant college preparation programming founded on making college access equitable has contributed a positive transition giving students a foundation of ánimo to persist in the first year of college. Implications for research, theory, policy and practice are discussed.