Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Rezai-Rashti, Goli


This exploratory case study investigated the educational persistence of female Latin American students. The Canadian population with Latin American origins is one of the fastest growing and increasingly diverse peoples in the country. Despite this growth, there is a dearth of research about peoples of Latin American origins in Canada, and consequently, there is limited research about Latin American students and their educational experiences. To help address this research gap, this study engaged critical feminist theory and intersectionality to conduct a strengths-oriented investigation of female Latin American students’ educational persistence. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews with post-secondary students and recent graduates revealed participants’ insights about their educational experiences, within historical, social, and temporal contexts. The interconnections between social identities and institutional power interactions of privilege and oppression uncovered essential elements of participants’ educational persistence. Data analysis methods employed the Multilevel Model of Intersectionality (Núñez, 2014a, 2014b) to guide iterative analysis processes.

Research findings illustrate that the female Latin American participants negotiated their dynamic, complex identities while they navigated the education system’s barriers of racism and classism. Participants realized that their identities evolved through these processes of identity negotiation; for example, they navigated issues of acceptance and rejection of their own ethnic identities. Participants demonstrated academic persistence, despite challenges and barriers that included institutionalized racism and classism. They believed that their education would effect change for themselves and their families. Research findings reveal the significance of parents’ influence on participants’ educational persistence. Parents actively supported their daughters’ education, and encouraged participants’ educational efforts, persistence, and aspirations. Familism, which prioritizes family interests before individual interests, influenced family relationships and participants’ educational persistence. Furthermore, for most participants, recompensa (acknowledgement or reward) of parents’ sacrifices motivated participants’ academic efforts. These findings have implications for parental engagement within the education system.

Finally, the Multilevel Model of Intersectionality facilitated understanding of participants’ dynamic identities and relationships, and in particular, the significance and complexity of parental involvement with their daughters’ education. This study provides insight into the application of this Model to research processes and contributes to the field of intersectionality research.