Date of Award

Fall October 2013

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Jill P. Bickett

Second Advisor

Karen K. Huchting

Third Advisor

Yvette V. Lapayese


This work is a case study focused on the practices of a comprehensive college access program that serves students in south Los Angeles that has maintained a high school graduation rate of 100% and a college matriculation rate of 98% since 1997. This study sought to utilize the voice and experience of students of color to discern the factors that are most effective in helping urban students of color and in turn, inform the future work of the college access community. The study was driven by the following research questions: a) which practices of a south Los Angeles college access program most impact a student's ability to matriculate to college? and b) How can the epistemology of urban students inform the work of college access programs? Through observations, interviews, journal exercises and document review, this study ranked the practices in order of importance according to the participants, and identified that structure and accountability are essential to the success of this college access program. In addition, the study revealed that the students of this program succeed academically because the program, provides students with structure, access and guidance; because it immerses its students in a college-going culture; because it offers access to academic and cultural resources; because it sets high academic expectations; because it engages the family of origin and creates a family within the program; and because it enhances the self-concept of its students: college access programs see students as scholars.

Using funds of knowledge as a framework, this study also introduced the original term, “masked epistemologies” which refers to the shared experiences of college access students once they enter college. The concept of masked epistemologies refers to the experience of students who enter college via a college access program, who go on to feel like her ways of knowing, shaped by the unique experience of being a high achieving student participant of a college access program from an urban setting, are disregarded in the new, unknown terrain of college, and must be masked or concealed, only to be revealed in environments considered safe. The students’ epistemologies go from being highly praised and admired, to being ignored to the point of invisibility. This study found that students of this college access program struggle with adapting to the social realm of college because they have not been exposed to class differences throughout their tenure in the program.

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