Giovanni Roman Humanities and Social Science
Student-faculty interactions: Understanding Mexican-American Community College Students
My research project explores the role student-faculty interaction has on community college students and their goals to transfer to a four-year university. I am specifically focusing on Latina/o students who are more likely to attend community college and who are also one of the major underrepresented groups in four-year universities. This being said, however, there are also limits in homogenizing the entire group of Latina/o community college students. For this reason, I plan to look at Latina/o subgroups separately in order to get a deeper and meaningful understanding of each group and the role student-faculty interaction has in their goals to transfer to a four-year university. Over the course of my summer research I focused on three specific subgroups: Mexican-American, Guatemalan, and Salvadorian students attending Los Angeles Community College District. In the future, I plan to extend this research to include more Latina/o subgroups and more community colleges around the greater Los Angeles area in order to understand the obstacles Latina/o community college students face in higher education and how we, as professors, students, and policy makers, can work together to increase retention and transfer rates for underrepresented students at four-year universities.
This research has become meaningful for me because as a transfer student I have faced the challenges students face trying to transfer to four-year universities. My inspiration came from a faculty mentor at community college who introduced me to the literature and her own personal work on the importance of student-faculty interaction at community college and how powerful it can be for minority students to understand, navigate, and empower themselves in the educational system. This research project, which I hope will unfold into an honors thesis as well as a dissertation in the future, is dedicated to my mentors, both at East Los Angeles College and UC Berkeley, and the SURF program, which has given me the opportunity to investigate the role student-faculty interaction has on Latina/o students in community college. Every student, whether at community college, at a four-year or in PhD program, cannot succeed without the support of a group of people to guide them during the obstacles they will face in their academic goals. I am thankful for the SURF program supporting me and empowering me to achieve what I hope will shed light on our current understanding of Latina/o community college students.