Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

William Perez

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Roberta Espinoza

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gilda L. Ochoa

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2020 Keisha Chin Goosby


Immigrant, Mentoring, Undocumented, Unorthodox

Subject Categories



This qualitative study explored the mentoring experiences of undocumented immigrant students (UIS) who have graduated from a four-year college or university in the United States. There has been an increase in research about undocumented immigrant students and there is an established body of literature about mentoring. However, there are few studies which focus on the mentoring of undocumented immigrant students. In addition, this study appears to be the first to focus primarily on the mentors of those students. The literature review establishes the multiple challenges that UIS face and their need for sustained support from capable mentors. Further, a prior examination of secondary data revealed that mentoring programs do not explicitly address the needs of UIS. The mentoring literature offers positive youth development theory (PYD) as a potential lens for examining the mentoring that UIS receive. Yosso’s (2005) community cultural wealth theory (CCW) lends itself well to identifying the strengths of UIS and how their CCW becomes capital. Using the framework of CCW as it relates to UIS and the lens of PYD to explore the support that their mentors provide, this study sought to answer three questions: 1. What kinds of mentoring relationships and specific aspects of mentoring help immigrant and undocumented students in high school to go on to college and those in college to graduate? 2. How do mentors of undocumented immigrant students help their mentees identify assets, known as community cultural wealth (CCW), that may not align with the assets that are valued by the current education system? 3. How do mentors and mentees leverage the aspirational, familial, social, linguistic, resistance, and navigational capital, derived from CCW, in order to transition from high school to college and then to graduate from college? UIS who graduated from a four-year college or university in the U.S. completed a questionnaire about their educational and mentoring experiences. They identified at least one mentor from their high school years and at least one mentor from their college years. Eighteen mentors agreed to participate in the study and answered semi-structured interview questions about their backgrounds, mentoring experiences, how their relationship with the UIS developed, and how they supported that student in high school or college. The data provides the following findings: 1. Mentors and UIS developed relationships in institutionally-mediated contexts 2. Mentors in the high school context used specific approaches that were effective 3. Mentors identified CCW that UIS possess and helped them convert CCW to capital 4. Mentors helped UIS increase their CCW and capital by offering specific types of support. The study also found that mentors helped UIS develop the forms of capital that CCW promotes, plus two additional forms of capital that are identified as persistent capital and leadership capital. This occurred with specific forms of support from mentors, who overwhelmingly provided what one of the mentors called “unorthodox” support. Analysis led to recommendations for educational institutions and mentoring programs to develop ways to explicitly support UIS. Since mentors are developing these relationships with UIS outside of structured programming, there are recommendations for mentors who may discover that they are providing the majority of the support for UIS in their context. Suggestions for future research include the development of a theory to study mentoring of UIS, the educational and mentoring experiences of UIS who do not go to college, the role of peer mentoring on UIS, addressing the delay between high school graduation and college matriculation for some UIS, and further studies that explore the additional forms of capital and mentoring approaches that this study identified.



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