School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Lucinda Spaulding


Latinas, STEM, Persistence, Familismo, Respeto, Intrinsic Motivation, Disadvantaged Groups


Education | Higher Education


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study is to describe the lived experiences of Latinas who persist in a STEM degree in the United States. The central question guiding this research is, what is the essence of the lived experiences of Latinas persisting in STEM education? The sample was composed of 10 Latinas who persisted in a bachelor’s degree in STEM. The lived experiences of Latinas who persisted with a degree in STEM was defined as Hispanic females who graduated from a four-year university with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The theory guiding this study is Tinto’s (2015) model of student motivation and persistence as it provides a framework for examining Latinas’ lived experiences persisting in a STEM degree. Data was collected and triangulated using demographic surveys, interviews, focus groups, and letters of advice. The data was analyzed through coding and thematic analysis. It was found that the essence of the experiences of Latinas began with a STEM exposure before entering college, which led to interest in increased curiosity and exploration in their particular STEM field. Following this, either shortly or many years after, they set their goal and worked tirelessly until they graduated. Family support spanned the entirety of their lives, however, peers, professionals or faculty, also provided support by guiding and encouraging them along the way.