Staff and Administrator Training to Promote College Completion of Undocumented Students
ABSTRACT CHRISTIAN WELLS STAFF AND ADMINISTRATOR TRAINING TO PROMOTE COLLEGE COMPLETION OF UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS Under the direction of OLIVIA BOGGS, Ed.D. This qualitative study investigated the experiences of staff and administrators who worked with undocumented students attending college in a southern region of the United States. Staff and administrators were unaware of the unique challenges that undocumented college students face when pursuing their college degrees. The researcher conducted a constructivist epistemological, grounded theory study and utilized the Latino/a critical race theory as the framework. Through 11 semi-structured interviews with staff and administrators who worked with undocumented college students in the southern region, the participants discussed the challenges they experienced while helping undocumented students with resources to help them complete college. The data revealed many barriers that undocumented college students face while completing college. The staff and administrators discussed how undocumented students wanted to pursue the “American Dream”. However, while pursuing their college degrees, it was causing them to have “Mental Health Concerns” because there were not many “Available Opportunities” for them to complete their degree. The current “Political Climate” in the United States also played a major role since many undocumented student were fearful of deportation after the repeal of the Deferred Action for Arrivals Program by President Donald Trump. Participants mentioned that undocumented students needed “Support” from their family, peers, and educators. The researcher concluded that undocumented students found obstacles in achieving the “American Dream” due to the federal and state laws. Further research should include the mental health state of staff, administrators, and undocumented students after the 2016 Presidential election. It would be necessary to also interview undocumented students who have graduated from college to understand their experiences after obtaining the degree. Due to the political discourse around illegal immigration, there is an increased challenge for undocumented students to share their experiences with staff and administrators, which can make it challenging to find resources to help undocumented students graduate successfully.