Publication Date

2001

Abstract

This paper examines the question, to what extent does identity development impact the college experience of Latino students while enrolled at a predominately Euro-American institution? This study had two primary objectives. Objective one was designed to determine the degree of identification by Latino students at Elizabethtown College with the following social indicators: ethnicity and race, phenotype, pan ethnicity, national origin, generational and immigration status, age, and language. Objective two sought to obtain data to determine the impact of individual and environmental factors upon ethnic and racial identification. The above variables were then connected and tested against the following frameworks and conceptual models: Nelson and Tienda's The Structuring of Hispanic Ethnicity - A Conceptual Framework (1985), Garza and Lipton's A Humanistic Interaction Model (1995) and, Saldaña's model entitled Predictive Pathways of Psychological Distress in Hispanic Students at a Predominately White University (1995). The setting for this study is small, private, liberal arts college in southeastern Pennsylvania. The subjects are undergraduate students who have identified themselves as either Hispanic or Latino. The methodology in this study is a forty question survey comprised of qualitative and quantitative questions. Surveys were distributed during the fall semester of 1999 by mail to the Latino student population. Twelve responses were completed and returned. Within this study, the participants included three freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and two seniors. Given the limited number of identity variables tested, the conclusions drawn from this study provide prima facie evidence that some semblance of acculturation is evident amongst the Hispanic students sampled in this inquiry. Evidence corroborating this process is illustrated through the variables mentioned above as well as an analysis of known college stressors that effect Latino students. In view of the fact that only one-third of the Latino student population was surveyed in this study, one cannot deduce that the analysis presented here is an accurate or complete description of the collective experiences of Hispanic students at Elizabethtown College. Those respondents who did reply to the survey present a compelling argument to continue researching potential correlations between Latino identity development and the sociological influences effecting its formation at predominately Euro-American institutions of higher education.

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