Lozano, Augustina (2015-03). The American Dream Lost in Translation: The Educational Trajectory of a Mexican Immigrant Student and His Journey Towards American Success. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The purpose of this qualitative study is to challenge the general beliefs and labels often associated with Latina/o immigrant students, especially unauthorized students, to give a voice and meaning to the thousands of unauthorized students walking the halls of Texas public schools, to understand the experiences of one unauthorized Latino immigrant student, and to add to the discussion regarding current policies and practices in effect for Latina/o immigrant students. A life narrative inquiry method was used in this study. Data were collected through five interviews conducted with the primary subject, one interview conducted with both of his parents, and one interview conducted with the subject's high school principal. The purpose of each interview was to gain insight into the subject's academic experiences as traversed within the socialized structures of a public school district. The interviews were audiotaped, translated into English as needed, and then transcribed by two third party members. Data were also collected through the subject's academic records provided by the subject. This study began with one recurring question: What are the academic experiences of one unauthorized Latino immigrant student as traversed within the socialized structures of a public school system? The study was framed by one theoretical framework, racial opportunity cost (ROC). Data were analyzed using critically reflective analysis. The subject's life narrative is presented in eight vignettes that offer an in-depth view of his experiences coupled with my personal reflections and knowledge of the subject's story. The use of ROC as the theoretical framework impacted this study foremost by allowing the cultural viewpoints the subject experienced as truth and draws attention to school culture as having a significant impact on the academic experiences of Latina/o immigrant children. Two conclusions were made from this study. First, Latina/o immigrant youth primarily require social-emotional support above academic support, and secondly, well-prepared teachers are warranted to ensure the academic success of Latina/o immigrant youth. Recommendations for future research lend themselves toward further research from both immigrant students and their parents' perspectives regarding their experiences in public school, policy regarding Latina/o immigrant youth, and educational leadership development.

ETD Chair

  • Irby, Beverly  Regents Professor and Senior Associate Dean; Marilyn Kent Byrne Endowed Chair for Student Success

publication date

  • March 2015