The Voice of Success: An Exploration of the Lived Experience of Kumeyaay College Graduates
Keywords:Native American, Higher Education, Persistence, Student Success, Kumeyaay, Retention
This phenomenological study ethnography aims to examine the lived experience of Kumeyaay Nation college graduates in higher education. Specifically, the study investigated factors that twelve Kumeyaay graduates perceived as contributors to their persistence in academic attainment within six years of enrollment for a baccalaureate degree at a four-year institution. Four themes emerged from the data analysis and were labeled as follows: cultural and identity revitalization (learning about tribal history and language), discovering the leader within (student leadership participation), a support network paradox (family values in contrast to community values), and what is the alternative? (limited opportunities as motivation). The research findings unveiled implications for practice in higher education, such as empowering students with knowledge of cultural traditions and the Kumeyaay language, fostering opportunities for leadership development, establishing Native American community-center support networks, and fostering mentorship and opportunities to give back among college graduates from the Kumeyaay Nation.
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