Date of Award

Summer July 2012

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Edmundo F. Litton

Second Advisor

Elizabeth A. Stoddard

Third Advisor

Marta P. Baltodano


At more than three million, Filipina/o Americans are one of the largest ethnic minority groups in the United States. Yet, few studies have focused on the experiences of Filipina/o Americans in institutions of U.S. higher education. Given the increasing disparity in degree achievement between first and second generation Filipina/o Americans, this qualitative study investigated the challenges to persistence that Filipina/o American undergraduates have faced in college and identified resources and strategies that have facilitated their survival in higher education. Through individual interviews and a focus group, participants shared their experiences in a private, Catholic, and predominantly White institution. This study found that challenges to persistence included feelings of cultural dissonance between Filipina/o Americans and a predominantly White and affluent student body, feelings of invisibility and marginality due to lack of representation in the institution’s academic and social spheres, and personal academic challenges. Their stories also elucidated that despite these struggles, students were able to persist. Campus subcultures such as ethnic and cultural organizations, an Asian-interest sorority, and service organizations were primary factors in persistence. Additionally, the support of family was key in fostering participants’ educational aspirations. Institutional characteristics such as size, religious affiliation and mission, and available resources were also cited as important factors in building their commitment to persist. The stories shared in this study are a testament to the need to destabilize dominant narrative of persistence in higher education to include Filipina/o American students who are often overlooked as a result of the model minority myth.