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Influences on degree attainment and leadership among San Luis Valley Hispanics

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Title:
Influences on degree attainment and leadership among San Luis Valley Hispanics a qualitative study
Creator:
Jenkins, Robert D
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
x, 230 leaves : ; 22 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Hispanic American youth -- Academic Achievement ( lcsh )
Hispanic American youth -- Education ( lcsh )
Adult education -- San Luis Valley (Colo.) ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 214-230).
Thesis:
Educational leadership and innovation
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Robert D. Jenkins, Jr.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
56519296 ( OCLC )
ocm56519296

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Full Text
INFLUENCES ON DEGREE ATTAINMENT AND LEADERSHIP
AMONG SAN LUIS VALLEY HISPANICS:
A QUALITATIVE STUDY
by
Robert D. Jenkins, Jr.
B.A., The Colorado College, 1972
M.A., The Colorado College, 1979
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado-Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2002


2002 by Robert D. Jenkins, Jr.
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy-
degree by
Robert D. Jenkins, Jr.
has been approved
by
Grace Yo


Jenkins, Robert D. Jr. (Ph.D., Educational Leadership
and Innovation)
Influences on Degree Attainment and Leadership Among
San Luis Valley Hispanics: A Qualitative Study
Thesis directed by Associate Dean Nadyne Guzman
ABSTRACT
This study examines rural San Luis Valley, Colorado
Hispanics raised in working poor families, who attained
college degrees and have become local leaders. The San
Luis Valley is an immense, isolated mountain valley,
characterized by a local Hispanic culture tracing lineage
to Spanish colonials of past centuries. Utilizing a
phenomenological, in depth interviewing approach with a
small sample (10), the research uncovered influences and
behavior that included: 1) significant individuals
promoting college attendance; 2) goal orientations; 3)
economic influences; and 4) giving back to the community.
Leadership issues included influences in Anglo-Hispanic
relationships, perceived Anglo dominance, the role of
Hispanic females, and influence of higher education. The
sample participants tended to blend accommodation with
iv


Anglos alongside Hispanic centric tendencies to become
successful leaders.
The strongest and most crucial influence on degree
attainment was significant individuals, usually parents
and teachers.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the
candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication.
Signed
Nadyne Guzman
v


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to all citizens of the San
Luis Valley, Colorado.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I wish to thank the staff of the Nielson Library at
Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado, for their ongoing
assistance and suggestions. I am especially grateful to
Robert Kelly and Debra West of the Interlibrary Loan
Department.
I also wish to thank and acknowledge the Fowler R-4J
School District, Fowler, Colorado; the North Conejos Re-
1J School District, La Jara, Colorado; and the South
Conejos School District Re-10 for allowing me time away
from my professional duties to pursue this degree.
I remain grateful to professional associates Dr.
Larry Vibber, Dr. Tim Snyder, Kurt Carey, and Carol
Harris for their assistance and inspiration.
Finally I greatly appreciate the assistance of my
dissertation committee for their suggestions and
guidance. I sincerely value Nadyne Guzman, my
dissertation committee chair, who grew up in the San Luis
Valley and provided me with invaluable direction and
supervision in research benefiting her home and mine.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. EL VALLE................................ 1
Rural ity.............................4
2. CITIZENSHIP IN THE VALLEY...............14
Hispanos............................ 16
Home or the Other Side
of the Mountains.....................23
3. RURAL POVERTY.......................... 33
Hispanic Families................... 37
Poverty and Near Poverty.............40
4. THE ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION............44
Aspirations..........................44
Resilience.......................... 54
Achievement......................... 61
5. THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
AND METHODOLOGY....................... 70
The Research Questions.............. 76
Methodology......................... 78
Phenomeno 1 ogy..................... 80
viii


Researching Hispanic
Populations.........................91
Research Respondents............... 97
Data Analysis..................... 101
Pilot Study....................... 113
6. FINDINGS.............................. 119
Individuals Promoting
College Attendance ............... 121
Textural Description ........ 121
Structural Description ...... 129
Goal Orientation.................. 135
Textural Description ........ 135
Structural Description ...... 139
Economic Influences .............. 144
Textural Description ........ 144
Structural Description ...... 147
Giving Something Back............. 152
Textural Description ........ 152
Structural Description ...... 154
Hispanic-Anglo Leadership ........ 158
Textural Description ........ 158
Structural Description ...... 161
ix


Issues with Anglo Dominance....... 165
Textural Description ........ 165
Structural Description ...... 167
Issues for Hispanic Women ........ 169
Textural Description ........ 169
Structural Description ...... 173
Higher Education and Leadership . 175
Textural Description ........ 175
Structural Description ...... 176
7. ESSENCE OF PHENOMENON, DISCUSSION
OF IMPLICATIONS, RESEARCH
RECOMMENDATIONS, AND SIGNIFICANCE
OF THE STUDY........................ 180
Essence of the Phenomenon......... 180
Discussion of Implications ....... 183
Recommendations for
Further Study .................... 189
Significance of the Study......... 191
8. PROLOGUE AS POSTLUDE................ 193
APPENDIX
A. RESEARCH SUBJECTS....................204
B. INTERVIEW QUESTIONS..................207
REFERENCES...................................214
x


CHAPTER 1
EL VALLE
Just north of the New Mexico-Colorado state line
lies the San Luis Valley, home to 46190 residents. The
people, of whom 46.5% are Hispanic and the remainder
generally Anglo, live 120 miles from Colorado's urbanized
Front Range, isolated in a valley of 8193 square miles,
the size of Connecticut (Colorado MapStats, 2001). This
study concentrates on one segment of San Luis Valley (the
Valley) population, the Hispanic working poor, and
investigates why some attain a college degree and, after
graduation, become successful citizen leaders while
remaining in the Valley. How and why do they make these
choices, and how do they succeed in reaching their goals?
Answers lie within a plethora of cultural, family, and
individual differences, even among the Valley's
relatively sparse population. Yet behind these
differences is the Valley itself, a unique domain of
special sociological and geographical factors that shape
its people.
l


Having resided in the Valley for much of my adult
life, I consider it home. My observations about daily
life in the Valley, unattributed to specific sources,
come not only from living there, but also from exploring
my chosen home, a place quite unlike Cincinnati, Ohio,
where I grew up. With outsider's eyes, I also focus with
the lens of a Valley citizen, and my underlying reason
for embarking on this research is to benefit the Valley
and the people I will continue to live with. As the new
century begins, I believe the San Luis Valley has a
viable economic and cultural future.
Despite modern highways snaking over the few passes
into the San Luis Valley, it remains isolated with a
distinct geographic identity. The high slopes of the
Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the eastern side and the
San Juan Mountains on the western slope create a literal
and symbolic barrier between the Valley and the rest of
the world. The Valley floor has altitudes ranging from
7600 to 8800 feet with surrounding mountains over 14,000
feet high. Nearby peaks with names like Storm King, the
Guardian, Crestone Needle, and the Blanca Massif allude
2


to geographical toughness, and some Valley inhabitants
believe that bitterly cold winter temperatures of -30 or
-40, as well as vast distances between towns, keep out
less hardy and resourceful outsiders. The world's
largest alpine valley, the San Luis Valley stretches
about one hundred miles north to south, narrowing in the
north where the Sangre de Cristos and the San Juans meet
at Poncha Pass. Eighty miles across at its midpoint, the
Valley remains arid, almost a desert, with the mighty Rio
Grande River flowing through, its tributaries outlined by
thick stands of cottonwoods along the banks. In between,
the frigid winters and cool summers allow chico and
sagebrush to grow, but low lying areas support cattails
and grasses. In this rich agricultural area,
enterprising farmers and ranchers can grow hay, potatoes,
wheat, and barley.
Life in the Valley has limits. Unlike the endless
sky of the Great Plains or the blended, green hills of
rural Appalachia, the mountains demarcate the Valley's
horizon. A resident wakes up each morning and can see,
quite precisely, the Valley borders from the outlines of
3


distant or nearby peaks. And the seasons limit, too. A
frost shortly after Labor Day, followed by below zero
temperatures in October, can quickly end a summer folks
have just gotten used to. They retreat inside to wait
for a teaser spring, which, when it even comes, does not
become apparent until May, as carefully attended gardens
bloom with delicate, blue or red Colorado columbines, and
robust cottonwoods shake clattering leaves in the wind.
The vast countryside lures the people outdoors, again,
like busy squirrels or marmots accumulating winter
stores, though the mountain chains still stand in the way
of the rest of the world. Such a place creates its own
kind of rurality.
Rurality
Despite the above noted unique environmental
aspects, the Valley does share a number of similar
characteristics with rural America. Economics, culture,
and population scarcity clearly place the San Luis Valley
within the milieu of the rural United States.
4


The term "rural" in contemporary America has
competing definitions. Cousins (1984) declared that a
typical rural community does not exist, but others
describe rural communities and the land in between from a
variety of perspectives. A U.S. Census Bureau
interpretation has classified "rural" as any place with
fewer than 2500 inhabitants, the U.S. Department of Labor
delimits it as counties having fewer than 2500 people,
but the Rural Development Act describes it as any place
outside a town of 10,000 population (Carmichael, 1982).
However, as Rosenfeld & Sher (1977) mention, a
residential enclave of 2000 people fifteen miles from a
city would be called "rural," when a community of 2600
citizens hundreds of miles from a city, would be "urban."
Clearly, population statistics by themselves do not
adequately define rurality, but population scarcity
within the Valley creates a very tangible rurality.
Only one county out of six, Alamosa County, has more
than 10,000 population, and no towns have more than
10,000 citizens (Colorado MapStats, 2001). The nearest
urban areas are Pueblo, Colorado, 120 miles away, and
5


Santa Fe, New Mexico, a similar distance south. In
addition, distances between population centers within the
Valley are vast.
Someone living in the county seat towns of Saguache,
Creede, or San Luis, all located within the Valley, must
travel a minimum of forty-five miles, one way, to a
hospital or full-sized, low price supermarket. The
Creede, Saguache, Moffat, and Sangre de Cristo school
districts each encompass hundreds of square miles, yet
find themselves competing in eight-man football or no
gridiron at all. Populations of Valley towns concentrate
in Alamosa (7960), the regional center, and Monte Vista
(4529), which serves the wealthier agricultural areas of
the Valley's western side (American FactFinder, 2000).
Parts of Conejos, Saguache, and Rio Grande counties have
more densely populated rural areas associated with
agricultural activity; but nonetheless, the two lane
highways still go through countryside where only the
remains of adobe walls or lost, abandoned farmhouses
sometimes punctuate the flat land. The population stays
clustered in certain locales.
6


Except for a brief time in the 1970s (Robertson &
Robertson, 1978) rural America has lost population and
economic viability for most of the twentieth century. As
recently as 1986-1987, U.S. rural areas hemorrhaged one
million outmigrators (O'Hare, 1988), and from the 1940s
to the 1960s the number of farms fell from 5.9 million to
3 million (Patterson, 1996) as people sought
significantly higher wages elsewhere (Carmichael, 1982;
Dillman & Tremblay, 1977). Recent trends, though, point
to a net in-migration of residents for rural areas
(Fulton, Fuguitt, & Gibson, 1997), but continued net loss
of young people going to college in urban areas (Gibbs,
1995 & 1998) .
Economic activity differentiates rural from
metropolitan areas. American rural economies have stayed
tied to the land, frequently victim to falling crop or
mineral prices, and are less elastic and varied than
urban economies (Deavers & Brown, 1985; Huang & Howley,
1991). Despite a common misconception of rural places
being primarily agricultural, only one of eleven rural
jobs is farm related (DeYoung, 1993). A study of 2443
7


non-metropolitan U.S. counties came up with these eight
primary economic activities: farming, mining,
manufacturing, retirement, government services, federal
lands, persistent poverty, and unclassified (DeYoung,
1993) Retail activity and, increasingly the service
sector, (Van Hook, 1993) are present in small and medium
sized communities, where the biggest employer is often
the local public schools (Crihfield, 1991).
With the addition of tourism, the above description
of rural economic activity fits the San Luis Valley quite
well. Twelve school districts employ administrators,
teachers, support personnel, while reinvesting tax
dollars into local retail and service entities. The
Valley grows some of the world's finest potatoes,
supplies barley and hops for the Coors Brewery, and a
number of Guatemalan refugees work at a large mushroom
farm. Ranching with sheep and cattle occupy much of the
land not suitable for growing crops. Many aspire to
prized steady employment with county and town governments
or the U.S. Forest Service that manages the enormous Rio
Grande National Forest. Silver and gold mines have
e


recently had a tenuous existence, though the town of
Creede stays proud of its hard rock mining heritage.
Perlite mines on the Valley's southern end still provide
employment for Conejos and Costilla counties. To the
west, "snow bird" retirees are purchasing summer homes in
the South Fork area, while their slightly less affluent
peers fill extensive RV parks along the Rio Grande River.
Little manufacturing exists, mainly due to transportation
problems out of an isolated region and no proximity to
the national interstate highway system.
Poverty is ever present in the San Luis Valley,
especially in the two southern counties bordering New
Mexico. With Colorado's two most economically depressed
counties, Costilla and Conejos (Colorado MapStats, 2001),
the Valley generally has higher poverty rates and lower
per capita incomes than the rest of the state. Nord
(1997) tracked 535 counties, twenty-five percent of all
nonmetropolitan U.S. counties. He defined these counties
as persistently poor because they had poverty rates
exceeding twenty percent in each census since 1960.
Surprisingly, from 1989 to 1994, per Capita income rose
9


by 10.7% for these counties, twice the rate of other
nonmetropolitan U.S. counties. Not so, though, for the
San Luis Valley. Of the fifty-seven persistently poor
counties across America showing a decline in per capita
income, five percent are in the Valley: Saguache, Rio
Grande, and Costilla. Conejos County had a per capita
income of $13585 as of 1997 (Colorado MapStats, 2001).
Colorado had only one other persistently poor county,
Crowley County on the southeastern plains. Nord (1997)
further describes persistently poor counties as remote
from urban centers, having a high proportion of Hispanic
or Native American inhabitants, and being
disproportionately agricultural.
Part of this phenomenon comes from a significantly
lower rural wage scale (Ghelfi, 1988; Gorham, 1992;
Hansen, 1970; O'Hare, 1988; Porter, 1989; United States
National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty, 1967;
Rodgers & Weiher, 1986). Duncan (1992) relates one
startling statistic that, "In 1987 over a quarter of all
rural workers with four years of college or more earned
less than the poverty level for a family of four, up from
10


17.8 percent in 1979" (p. 29). For many rural: areas, the
lower wage scale correlates with lower housing costs, but
as Hansen (1970) remarked, cheaper land and lower tax
rates generally mean a lower level of services. Older
statistics show home ownership rates are higher for the
rural poor compared to metro areas, with forty percent
paying property taxes versus twenty-eight percent in the
cities (Ghelfi, 1988; O'Hare, 1988; Rodgers & Weiher,
1986). The 2000 census indicates a 78.8% home ownership
level in the Valley's Conejos County despite the wage
scale being about half of Colorado's average. Nearby
Costilla County mirrors the same statistics and both
counties have higher home ownership levels than
Colorado's average at 67.3% (Colorado MapStats, 2001).
The San Luis Valley reflects rural American culture
as well. Not so easily defined by statistics, rural
culture nonetheless exists, and remains in contrast to
the urban/suburban culture of Colorado's Front Range and
other parts of the United States. Anyone who lives in a
rural community realizes that the town itself appears to
be quite inter-related by blood, marriage, or from just
li


living side by side for a long time (Peshkin, 1978).
Luloff & Miller (1981) characterized, "rural culture as
being provincial, socially conservative, slow changing,
traditional, and somewhat fatalistic" (p. 611). On the
other hand, Goudy (1977) stated glowingly, "residents
find most satisfying those relationships, where local
people participate and take pride in civic affairs, where
decision making is shared, where residents are
heterogeneous, and where people are committed to the
community and its upkeep" (p. 380).
Unlike an urban location, single events can suddenly
change a small town, and the issue of community survival
stays just beneath the surface. In 1998, for the second
time in ten years, outside interests attempted to
undermine the ability of the San Luis Valley to hold onto
water in its underlying aquifer. Realizing a direct
threat to economic and cultural viability, Valley
citizens rallied to defeat the statewide ballot
initiatives, while building a regional coalition.
However, in sharp contrast, elsewhere in the Valley,
forgotten community dreams wither in hamlets and
12


crossroads passed by hamlets and crossroads with names of
naive optimism like Richfield, Bountiful, and Bonanza.
From an observer's eye, some parts of the Valley
such as Alamosa appear to be growing, while the empty
storefronts in Del Norte and Sanford indicate the
precarious nature of community existence. And an influx
of outsiders, urban refugees or retirees, may very well
lead to a clash of cultures: expectations of urban
services versus doing without the unaffordable, different
values versus long evolved community ones, or new types
of people versus the predictable and familiar.
Thus, geographical limits, population scarcity,
economy, and culture blend and shape the San Luis
Valley's rurality, just as in so many other country
locales. However, the Valley' uniqueness --its magic--
comes from its people, sequestered in a vast mountain
neighborhood, but with a special ethnic blending.
13


CHAPTER 2
CITIZENSHIP IN THE VALLEY
Although social and cultural fissures exist in any
community, rural residents attend the same schools, shop
at the same stores, and go to community events,
regardless of social standing or status. Community youth
observe occupational models that manifest the rural
economy, while perceived deviant behavior, whether
illegal or not, can result in a cruel accountability as
gossip and rumor spread. Residents can network with the
local power structure because they went to high school
with the county commissioner or knew her/his father quite
well. Likewise, long-time residents who mind their
behavior have more local say than newcomers.
Valley residents are active along already
established networks of human interaction (Glidewell, et
al.,1998). Social and political relationships come from
occupations, church, projects, and lifestyles. People in
leadership positions receive a degree of respect for
their title, but in a small population environment they
14


have to earn ongoing deference from interactions with
people they might normally be shielded from in a
cosmopolitan society. To paraphrase from 2000 U.S.
Presidential election sound bytes, Valley leaders
practice one on one "retail" leadership, rather than
large group "wholesale" leadership. Unlike in urban
areas, local democracy and leadership does not arise from
mastery of the media or among competing groups that do
not know one another. It comes from knowing individuals
and their families or long held acquaintances. One skill
local leaders do need is access to external information
(Nylander, 1998), leading to government or private grants
that are easier to obtain with the Valley's poverty and
ethnic mix.
Ethnic tensions between Anglos and Hispanics
certainly do exist at times, usually over a specific set
of issues, although most governing boards and elected
entities reflect the ethnic breakdown of local
population. After all, everyone realizes that the person
whom a leader disparages publicly is the same one that
the leader will see the next day picking over the produce
15


at the local supermarket. Most certainly, an instant
accountability exists in the Valley.
Hispanos
With about equal sized Valley populations, neither
Hispanic nor Anglos are "minorities" within the region.
However, such even numbers are not present in all areas
of the San Luis Valley, and a significant Guatamalan
community also exists within Alamosa. For this study,
the term "Anglo" means non-Hispanic Caucasians, who trace
their ancestry from a variety of European countries. On
the other hand, the term "Hispanic" has different
implications depending largely on which U.S. region it
represents. Many Hispanics reside in Florida, where most
are Cuban-Americans. New York City has been home for
many of Puerto Rican ancestry, another Hispanic group
with its own cultural identity. In the southwest United
States and southern California, quite a number of
Hispanics trace their lineage to the nation of Mexico,
and still others have come from different Latin American
countries. "Hispanic" is about as easy to define as
16


"American", as evidenced by several synonyms like
"Latino," "Chicano," or "Mexican-American." Like a
majority of Americans, many Hispanic families originally
immigrated to the United States from other countries.
However, not all of them did.
No Hispanics or Anglos lived in the San Luis Valley
until 1853, five years after the United States acquired
the area in the Mexican War. That year, Hispanics from
what is present day northern New Mexico created the
settlement of San Luis, and within a few years others had
settled near Del Norte and Conejos on the western side of
the Valley. These Hispanics came from a long-standing
culture begun in the 1600s in the northern reaches of
Spain's empire in the Western Hemisphere. Nostrand
(1992) refers to these Hispanics as "Hispanos,"
originally of Spanish ancestry, who intermarried with
nearby Pueblo Indians, immigrant Anglos, and people from
Mexico. That blending coupled with the geographical
isolation of northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley
resulted in what Nostrand calls a "homeland." He further
describes the idea as:
17


The concept of a "homeland," although abstract and
elusive, has at least three basic elements: a place,
a people, and identity with place. The people must
have lived in a place long enough to have adjusted
to its natural environment and to have left their
impress in the form of a cultural landscape. And
from their interactions with the natural and
cultural totality of the place, they must have
developed and identity with the land emotional
feelings of attachment, desires to possess, even
compulsion to defend. Hispanos developed such a
level of consciousness about their land.(p. 214)
The Hispanics of the San Luis Valley, by and large,
are not "Mexican-Americans," but, instead, were the
original settlers. Intermarriage and twentieth century
cultural influences are changing the Hispano sub-culture
(Nostrand, 1992), and it is gradually becoming
assimilated with the surrounding cultural landscape.
Vestiges of their ancient culture, such as a Castilian
Spanish dialect (Nostrand, 1992), will disappear, but not
the idea of the Valley being an integral part of their
culture. Hispanic roots in the Valley remain very deep.
Does this culture produce effective leaders and
successful citizens? When the United States acquired
northern New Mexico in 1848, the incoming Anglos allowed
Hispanic political traditions to continue, that Garcia
and De La Garza (1977) refer to as an internal
18


colonialism model of political power. However, while not
supplanting local culture, Americans took control of the
area with military presence, national and territorial
law, and new ways of doing commercial business. Hispanic
leaders now had to answer, not only to their own people,
but also to Anglos who controlled the legal and military
power.
Yet history has interesting ways of repeating
itself. Just as northern New Mexico and the San Luis
Valley had been outliers of the Spanish Empire and the
Mexican nation, they still had that status within
America's new western territories. After the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican War, Congress did
not require allegiance to the new nation nor adoption of
English. Thirty years later in the 1870s, the New
Mexican territorial legislature spoke only Spanish, also
the language within all the schools. Furthermore, few
opportunities existed for isolated rural communities to
utilize English, with even jury trials done in Spanish
(Gonzalez, 2000). Such a cultural milieu impacted
Hispano leadership.
19


Some local Hispanos became strictly internal
leaders, utilizing lay positions within the Catholic
Church or by attaining political and economic success
within the local community. The secretive, mysterious
Penitentes, rumored to recreate crucifixions at Easter
time back in the hills, were Catholic lay leaders who
replaced priests due to shortages in rural areas
(Nostrand, 1992). The Valley town of Antonito had the
first chapter of the Sociedad Protetcian Mutua de
Trabajadores Unidos (S.P.M.D.T.U.), a Hispano
organization, best described as a combination of Catholic
and labor movement influences with a rural overlay.
However, Anglo-American dominance created an obvious
barrier that allowed internal Hispanic leadership to
flourish, but forced degrees of accommodation upon those
who could lead Hispano culture within the southwestern
United States. Some became intermediary leaders with
strong contacts within the Anglo community, while others,
external leaders, either confronted Anglo dominance or
accommodated it with parallel Hispanic organizations and
adoption of American ways (Gutierrez, Parra, & Rios,
20


1979; Martinez, 1999). A confrontational leader, Reyes
Tijerina, raided a county courthouse just south of the
Valley in 1967, demanding a return of land to Hispanics,
allegedly stolen from them in 1848. In contrast, enough
accommodation apparently took place for the United States
to finally grant statehood to New Mexico in 1912, thus
giving Hispanos nominally more access to the political
process.
The Valley has had local leaders from the same
molds. Frank "Kiko" Martinez, an external leader, was
finally cleared of allegations of illegal and radical
activity from the 1970s. Also a recent lawsuit brought
by three Valley Hispanic citizens forced reapportionment
on the Colorado House of Representatives to guarantee a
Hispanic voting majority for a seat representing the
Valley. On the other hand, Ken Salazar of Manassa,
elected as Colorado's Attorney General in 1998, became
the first Hispanic to ever assume statewide office.
Carlos Lucero, raised in Antonito, is now a sitting
federal district judge.
21


Julian Samora (1953) actually wrote a dissertation
in the early 1950s about Hispanic leadership in the San
Luis Valley. He did not write of internal versus
external leaders, but he did find a lack of unity among
Valley Hispanics. He attributed it to resentment towards
those who moved ahead, distrust among the "Spanish"
themselves, apathy, and individualism. Martinez (1999),
who studied current Colorado Hispanic leaders, pointed
out that the delineation of internal, intermediary, and
external Hispanic leadership (Garcia & de la Garcia,
1977) is now blending, and the leaders he researched,
including some with Valley backgrounds, had experienced
all three types within their lifetimes. Numerous Hispanic
leaders in the Valley have utilized traditional pathways
such as the Catholic Church, political office within
Hispanic majority towns, and self-employed economic
endeavors. Others follow professional routes connected
to the Anglo culture, such as doctors and educators. In
most cases, higher education became a political asset for
these leaders (Garcia & de la Garcia, 1977) and a means
22


to hone their leadership skills and behavior (Martinez,
1999).
Home or the Other Side of the Mountains
Another dynamic exists: community survival. If a
small town cannot retain its younger generations or
attract enough newcomers, it may very.well die a long,
lingering death over a few generations. And, indeed,
community concern is well founded. Gibbs (1998)
remarked, "For many rural places, the loss of young
adults who attend college is the primary agent of human
capital change" (p. 61). In an earlier study he noted a
35 percent loss of young people to urban areas, though a
bit ameliorated by some urban people then moving in
(Gibbs, 1995). Trainor (1993) found that rural "Marshall
County" needed to socially reproduce itself, while
Hedlund & Vollmer (1994) noted that rural high school
seniors they studied overwhelmingly desired exposure to
other, preferably urban, cultures. Haas (1992) added
that conditions in the community interact with students'
imaginations as they realize their aspirations.
23


Small town residents anywhere become fearful with
the loss of the last new car dealership, or a J.C. Penney
store, followed by a battle over consolidation of the
local school that, until then, has been concrete evidence
of belief in future generations. Shively (1993)
poignantly related about Vernon, Colorado, that lost its
school:
Many families in the Vernon area found themselves in
Wray attending many school functions involving their
children. While attending the school functions it
became more convenient to do more of their shopping,
further reducing the amount of business being
conducted in the stores of Vernon. After a few
years all the businesses in Vernon closed for a lack
of customers.(p. 24)
To foster a future, a parochial experience for a
small community's young may indeed be an imperative for
community survivability (Peshkin, 1978). The lure of
country values (Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Kay, 1982;
Robertson & Robertson, 1978), and the powerful pull of
the surrounding natural environment (Donaldson, 1976;
Donaldson, 1986; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Overton &
Reese, 1977) form a backdrop for youthful aspirations.
And rural youth must, at least, take into account loyalty
to a community that has invested its viability in them.
24


Many would stay if they could. Armstrong (1993)
found in a study of 5600 rural high school students in
114 schools that almost three-fourths considered their
community a good place to raise children, and they felt
close to friends and family. Yet within rural culture,
"rural youth have fewer role models in high status
occupations and that expectations of classmates and
others are not as likely to direct rural youth towards
college" (Lowe & Pinhoy, 1980, p. 328).
Influences from rural cultures, rural poverty, and
Hispanic families can lure a college graduate back to or
to stay in her/his homeland. For others, though,
economic temptations or a desire to adopt a new culture,
can keep them on the other side of the mountain.
Although the research sample for this study came
from those who stayed, many rural young people,
especially young women, have been moving to urban areas,
beginning with the immediate post war era of the 1940s
and 1950s (Hansen, 1970; Patterson, 1996) and continuing
into the late twentieth century (Culter & Edmondson,
1989; Donaldson, 1986; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Hull,
25


1994). Hull (1994) elaborated by remarking on the
educational perspective:
The Rural Dilemma is well documented. Attain a high
level of education and you must leave rural areas to
acquire employment commensurate with the educational
preparation. Stay in the rural area and economic
opportunities will be limited regardless of
educational attainment. Move to the city with low
levels of education and you will enjoy low skill/low
pay employment as a member of a larger, more densely
populated group.(p. 1)
Hull (1994) added, "staying in their community may
limit their access to postsecondary education, training,
and employment. On the other hand, leaving may mean
cutting themselves off from their support system and the
security of their home town (p. 2) Tough choices come
early on for ambitious, rural, young people.
When a person resides and makes a living in an urban
area, the metropolitan area can be absorbing, a place
wide enough that the surrounding countryside becomes
invisible. "Out there" is just an automobile drive away,
though throughout the city are parks, sometimes large,
that give a taste of the natural environs. The wider
geography usually registers in day-to-day consciousness
only when planning a trip out of the city> or when one
26


has a strong desire to escape the parameters of urban
lifestyle. A city can seem more like a continent, not an
island.
In contrast, small Rocky Mountain towns feel like
living on an island. Surrounding the square mile or less
of the town, one can easily see the unpopulated
countryside or even walk to it. The environment has
certain limits such as amount of economic activity, how
many people live there, availability of needed items, and
its size. Underneath the community spirit and
cooperative relationships is a kind of fragility, and a
not much talked about realization that a small town can
die quickly, reclaimed by the surrounding countryside.
Barring a cataclysm, a city will not cease to exist. In a
smaller town, an individual behaves a bit differently, in
ways one does not expect, echoing what Barker (1978)
stated, "that behavior and environment are inexorably
continuous in time, that they are relentlessly ongoing
from sunrise to sunrise with no gaps whatsoever (p. 3)."
Poet, Aaron Abeyta stated the feeling more lyrically in
his poem entitled Antoni to:
27


here at the edge of the llano
where the grass begins
like a migrant pulse
thumping in the wind
every april
the town becomes
somebody's prayer
waiting for a candle to be lit
there are places to begin (Abeyta, 2001, p. 5)
Peshkin (1978), in a qualitative study of
"Mansfield" in rural Illinois, writes of the rural
experience a bit differently:
The high proportion of Mansfield High School
graduates who live in Mansfield and environs result
from a socializing experience that leaves many of
Mansfield's youth with neither the competency nor.
the will to live just anywhere. Rather, their
parochial experience serves to maintain the
community's stability and continuity.(p. 87)
Lifelong residency also brings added influence and
understanding within the community (Peshkin, 1978).
Although this may be true, there can be a price.
"Traditionally the small town has resisted change by
passive means. Either it had little of value to interest
bringers of change, or it simply subdued-by absorbing-
those few upstarts who would have things a different way"
(Robertson & Robertson, 1978). And that can exacerbate
its young people's rural dilemma.
28


Hedlund & Vollmer (1994) studied rural high school
seniors torn between fear of leaving the community and a
desire to transcend their country label and a desire to
experience another culture. They feared college as big
and impersonal. Rural youth tend to identify with nature
and the renewing qualities of close contact with the
outdoors (Donaldson, 1976; Donaldson, 1986; Hedlund &
Vollmer, 1994; Overton & Reese, 1977), yet they can view
their rural community as uncultured and prejudiced
(Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994). Still, though, they
appreciate their "country values." A majority of
subjects in Armstrong's study, 71%, believed their
communities good places to raise children, but 80%
thought there was not much to do. Many planned to leave
due to job opportunities (1993) .
Do certain types of rural young person who tends to
stay within her/his community? Donaldson (1976) asked
the same question in his dissertation. He did a
qualitative study in one Maine community, "Sawyer," of 46
nonmigrating young adults and conceptualized three types
of "natives," his term for those who solved their "rural
29


dilemma" by staying in their hometown. His subjects, by
and large, did not obtain college degrees, nor did they
represent any particular socio-economic group. He
eventually conceptualized three types as "traditional,"
"modern-achieving," and "questioning."
The traditional chose to stay in Sawyer and tie
her/his lifestyle, occupation, and aspirations to Sawyer
the way it was at the time of the study. As about half
the sample, they "appear locked into the time-proven
Sawyer rituals of becoming adult. They operate in a
small and very familiar world, delimited by the
geographic boundaries of Sawyer and revolving around
family life-long social and cultural ties" (Donaldson,
1986, p. 124). "The fulfillment this kind of adulthood
offers is less a personal fulfillment than a contextual
one: fitting into the ascribed roles and feeling oneself
assume the importance of the adult within Sawyer is the
end in itself" (Donaldson, 1976, p. 176).
The modern-achieving, about 40%, "involves the
pursuit of material goals that hold the promise of
specific developmental goals; one's own job, one's
30


college or travel experience, one's degree, one's modern
home are both the ends and the means to a sense of
competence, a feeling of importance, and the proof of
one's membership in modern America" (Donaldson, 1986, p.
124). They tended to be more successful in school, and
would not object to new development on the edge of town,
or to expenditures on a computer lab in the elementary
school (Donaldson, 1976) .
The smallest groups, the ten percent making up the
questioners, "strive for the integration of what they
have learned is good on the outside (a job skill or
friendship, for example) and what they know is good
within Sawyer (a stretch of riverfront threatened with
development)" (Donaldson, 1986, p. 124). "These youth
stood up for a variety of unorthodox views and life ways
within Sawyer and, in the act of doing so, seemed to
verify their vitality" (Donaldson, 1976, p. 188). The
questioners have potential to bridge the differences
between traditional and modern achieving, and even
contrasts or clashes that some rural communities
31


experience with lifetime natives versus urban/suburban
refugees.
Donaldson's study (1976) provides a conceptual
perspective for individuals' choices to stay in the San
Luis Valley. However, these three varieties of native
nonmigrators existed in an ethnically homogeneous (Anglo)
community in central Maine, and questions arise as to
whether those types apply to the Valley. Do those three
types exist in multicultural communities of the San Luis
Valley? And what effect does poverty or its absence have
on those who choose to stay? Further, does gaining a
college degree occur more among one type or another, or
even change an individual from say traditional to
questioning?
Effective citizenship within the circumstance of
community or ethnic group is necessary for later
leadership in the Valley or beyond its horizons. The
subjects for this study, though, experienced the culture
and citizenship of poverty, influences that may cast a
certain perspective on later choices. Poverty, for them,
could have been an inhibitor or an incentive to change.
32


CHAPTER 3
RURAL POVERTY
Hispanic leaders in the San Luis Valley are
certainly cognizant of economically poorer fellow
Hispanics. In most Valley towns populated by poorer
Hispanics sagging row houses remain on some blocks, or
within the countryside, windswept trailers and small
houses dot the horizon with an unknown number of
residents inside.
Nationwide about 30.6 percent of rural Hispanics
live at the poverty level, a slightly higher rate than
metropolitan Hispanics. The national rural poverty
percentage is 15.6, with 16.5 in the West, which reflects
a recent decline in the 1990s. However, 26.3 percent of
rural households are just above the poverty line compared
to 18.2 percent in urban areas (Nord, 1997) .
Behind the statistics, rural poverty is different
than its urban counterpart. Poorer folks in the littler
towns live side by side with wealthier neighbors, and in
larger towns the more impoverished sections are only a
33


few blocks from well-to-do neighborhoods. Unlike urban
locales, the poor are not easily relegated to an unseen
area.
Although rural areas are by no means purely
egalitarian, the rural poor share a different kind of
citizenship, with a privilege of not being anonymous in
one's community. Their children attend the town's public
school, the center of culture and entertainment for the
vicinity (Peshkin, 1978; Shively, 1993). They can talk
at the laundromat and spread a bit of gossip about local
leaders they actually know. With little public
transportation, they have to own a vehicle, all too often
an older car or truck that's difficult to maintain in the
Valley's harsh climate. Their extended family probably
lives nearby (Huang & Howley, 1991; Lichter, Cornwall, &
Eggbeen, 1993), helpful in pooling resources within a low
paying economy. In the Valley, many poorer citizens do
seasonal work. The potato harvest in fall or summer
employment from the U.S. Forest Service can tide a family
over into winter, when public assistance payments may
take up the slack. Others do not appear to be in
34


poverty, as they may own their own farm and land, but
still have difficulty financing basic needs.
Janet Fitchen (1995) described in several ways
Donaldson's traditional types (1976 & 1986) from her
research of the rural poor. In her fascinating case
study of the rural poor in a small poverty stricken
hamlet in the Northeast, she examined generational and
community history, and her subjects' direct quotes and
Fitchen's conclusions show how deeply her research
touched on individual lives.
Our eyes are set a little above what we have now,
but not as high as what we would like ideally. We
aim for something a little better than what we have,
but not that much better. Then, if we can't achieve
our hopes, it's not a great disappointment. You
have to learn to try for a happy medium, (p. 193)
Such a seemingly straightforward statement summarizes a
realistic hedging of bets and limited investment that
rural families in poverty make for their futures.
Fitchen found that parents' greatest desire was for their
children to have a better life, but promotion to a higher
socioeconomic group meant increased risk of failure.
Poverty and rurality combined to increase social
isolation wherein, "a real deterrent to participating in
35


socially mixed groups in the larger community is the fear
of unknown situations where social cues might be misread
and responded to inappropriately" (p. 178) As a result,
the home became a haven, a safe retreat. A child could
stay there with the psychological strength of "us" and
the "outside world." Fitchen added:
This closing in of horizons (role models) is both a
curse and salvation for young adults. The knowledge
that they can always retreat to the safety of home,
accepting the limited horizons of the rural,
depressed neighborhood, probably has the negative
effect of reducing the effort some of them put
into making it in the outside world. On the other
hand, unless and until the outside world becomes
more accessible, the home neighborhood as both a
physical and socio-economic niche is an essential
haven for the preservation of self. Thus, horizons
close, and limits may come to feel welcome, rather
than constraining, (p. 200)
The economic opportunities on the other side of the
mountain may not be enough to lure a non-degree working
poor Valley resident; the family home offers a means of
getting by.
An individual seeking a college degree and pursuing
economic ambition is making a scary leap of faith. In
the closing scene of "The Migrants", a play by Tennessee
Williams, the mother character within a poor family that
36


followed the crop harvests northward, literally pushes
her son out the door to make him follow a dream. He had
fallen in love with a young woman in town, patched
together an old car, and dreamed of moving to Cincinnati
to start a new life with his girlfriend. His mother
forced the issue, making him leave the essential haven
(Conners & Craddock, 1998) An underlying pair of
questions for this research includes: can a college
degree bring a liberating influence, and does the
ambitious family member have an overwhelming desire to
overcome obstacles towards a degree, or is "getting by" a
reasonable price for easy familiarity with the local
community?
Hispanic Families
Another influence to consider regarding Valley rural
culture would be the Hispanic family. Earlier research
appears to emphasize the differences Hispanic families
have with the dominant Anglo-American culture rather than
inherent strengths or weaknesses that Hispanic families
may have. Carter (1970) also emphasized cultural
37


differences describing early "macho" tendencies of boys
that may lead to dropping out from high school.
Certainly cultural differences exist between the minority
Hispanics and the majority Anglos, but one can only
speculate as to how that influences a tendency for Valley
Hispanics to stay in their homeland or not.
Marin & Marin (1991) have written of tendencies
within Hispanic families that may indeed influence
decisions to stay close to home with or without a degree.
They note the strong attachment many Hispanics have to
their extended families with perceived obligations to
provide material and emotional support. There is
considerable reliance on relatives, who also function as
behavioral and attitudinal referents. Family
relationships tend to be nurturing with an emphasis on
smooth and pleasant social interaction and an avoidance
of confrontation. Possibly that family safety net
correlates with Hispanics having the lowest rate per
thousand of placement in foster homes compared to any
other group earlier in the 1990s (Hayes-Bantista, 1996).
Hispanic families exert a strong influence (Brown,
38


Dornbusch, & Steinberg, 1992; Gandara, 1982), and that
may, in turn, alter an individual's decision to stay in
one's hometown or home valley. As mentioned earlier, San
Luis Valley Hispanics by and large come from a culture
predating the United States, and do not find themselves
as recent immigrants or as being uprooted from their
ancestral homeland like Cuban-American, Puerto Rico-
American, or Mexican-American populations have.
A combination of poverty-stricken home havens
(Fitchen, 1995) and strong Hispanic family influence,
especially from a long established regional culture, may
create traditional nonmigrators (Donaldson, 1976) On
the other hand, a B. A. and taste of material success may
stimulate individuals towards a modern achieving life
style. In much the same way, a degree can raise
questions and bring new perspective on one's home
culture. Or their decisions to stay might be for other
reasons, and acquiring a college degree may accentuate or
aggravate that decision process. A completely new type
of nonmigrator/leader prevalent in multicultural, rural,
39


poverty environments may exist, in contrast to
Donaldson's (1976, 1986) findings.
Poverty and Near Poverty
This study concentrates specifically on San Luis
Valley Hispanics who grew up economically poor or near
poor. Their families fluctuated between earning adequate
blue-collar wages or even middle class to almost no
income at all (Duncan, 1992). However, limited economic
success, did not lead to a sustained stability,
characterized by adequate savings or property. These
Hispanics remained one paycheck away from near
destitution.
A more generic description of the poor comes from
the U.S. Department of Labor (A Profile of the Working
Poor, 1996). That report identifies those individuals
who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force, but whose
income fell below the official poverty threshold as being
"working poor." About 4.1 million families, many headed
by unmarried women, met that definition in 1995. Three-
fourths of the working poor are Anglos, but African-
40


American and Hispanic workers had twice the rate of
poverty than Anglos (A Profile of the Working Poor,
1996). Rural Hispanics appear to have more chance of
living in poverty due to higher poverty rates among U.S.
Hispanics in general (De La Rosa, 2000) and the lower
wage scale that exists in rural areas anyway.
Other indicators of poverty status for this study
included: children on Federal free lunch at school,
family utilization of food stamps, one or both parents
being employed most of the time, sporadic welfare
payments, home ownership or steady rental history, and
vehicle ownership.
However, because over time families can fluctuate
from near destitution to working class, self-reporting
from the subjects of this study was essential. What the
subjects "see" in hindsight as to their socio-economic
status while growing up is well within the selected
research tradition (Moustakas, 1994) Hindsight can
provide a sort of leveling in the subject's perception
for the twenty years or so of growing up, and he or she
should be able to characterize the family's status. The
41


subjects utilized local referents, comparing themselves
to neighbors who seemed economically better or worse off
or by characterizing the entire community's relative
wealth. Living in the Valley, I have heard many describe
certain towns as poor, even when they are in close
proximity to allegedly wealthier communities. And
lurking behind individual circumstances is the general
perception most residents have that the entire Valley is
economically depressed.
Do Hispanic leaders and later successful citizens
emerge from the working poor in the San Luis Valley?
Definitely some do, and this research traces their
pathway towards a college degree, followed by successful
citizenship staying within their Valley community. They
are amidst the Valley's rural culture, where Hispano
families and pervasive poverty all exist in a unique
mountain realm in southern Colorado. Regardless of
background, the future of this special place rests with
its young and ambitious, with its leaders and doers, and
their abilities to realize their goals and give back to
42


their homeland.
It can begin with attaining a college
degree.
43


CHAPTER 4
THE ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Aspirations
The quest for a college degree begins with initial
aspirations. In a general sense aspirations are, "what
drive individuals to do more and be more than they
presently are. We may know what we are, but we cannot
know for certain what we can be" (Cobb, Mclntire, &
Pratt, 1989, p. 12). Aspirations for college may begin
from early childhood within many families, later in
others, and for many individuals the family may even
discourage college attendance, and the desire for a
degree comes from other external influences. For some
the aspiration may have even started as a lark or
youthful experiment, only later taking on meaning.
Some researchers have created conceptual models for
educational aspirations using an investment metaphor
(Sherwood, 1989) or by identifying stages in a decision
model (Hossler & Stage, 1989; Hossler & Stage, 1992;
44


Young & Reyes, 1987). No matter how the seed of college
aspiration sprang forth, either in a linear fashion or as
a segment of a holistic life outlook, influences of one
kind or another fertilized it. For rural youth, their
college aspirations germinate within the soil of rural
culture.
Rural schools are the cultural and social center of
small towns. They provide a cultural blending and
reinforcement of local values (Armstrong, 1993; Edington,
1976; Hutto, 1989; Peshkin, 1978), and community
characteristics impact school educational services
(Debertin, 1977). Thirty years ago, Cosby & Picou (1979)
utilized a large sample (1052) of rural youth to do a
longitudinal study from high school sophomore year to
four years after high school. They reported that career
preferences developed in high school strongly affected
later educational attainment. Smaller high schools, do
offer more leadership and membership opportunities, even
' >
*
for the marginal student (Baird, 1969; Green & Stevens,
1988; Gump, 1978; Horn, 1990; Knisley, 1992; Willems,
1967). Knisley (1992) noted that rural youth from
45


poverty backgrounds who had these leadership/membership
experiences tended to aspire to college. Nelson (1973)
also found that rural high school extra curricular
experiences led to higher expectations, creating a
phenomenon of "pressing" students to more participation
and identification with the school system's formal goals.
That identification could also inhibit non-conforming
behavior somewhat (Green & Stevens, 1988).
Another aspect of small, rural schools is a tendency
for school personnel to identify more with their students
than in larger schools (Charles, 1969; Edington, 1976),
possibly because teachers live in the same small
community too. In addition, "community standards are
definitely understood by the teachers" (p. 9), at least
in the nine small Colorado districts that Cousins (1984)
studied.
With considerable student participation in rural
high schools, teachers who understand local values, and
schools being community social and cultural centers, the
rural high school usually becomes an accurate mirror of
46


the nearby cultural context. Theobald & Nachtigal (1995)
articulated this idea well:
Focusing on place, using the community as curricular
lens, not only contributes to recreating community,
but it will also help realize true school renewal-
first by making learning more experiential and
therefore more powerful, and second, by providing
youths with an ability to understand their community
and its environs-its social structure, its
economy, its history, its music, its ecology the
more they become in that community, (p. 134)
Bosworth (2002) added an additional element. Among
rural high school student leaders, she found that the
"everyone knows everyone" aspect to small high schools
correlated with service to the community, so much so,
that she described it as intrinsic.
Trainor (1993) studied two rural Pennsylvania
counties with very different college attendance rates.
"Gifford County" had the legacy of a former big company
and middle class economy that had created get ahead
expectations in the community. More of their young
people went away to college, their decisions based
primarily on economic criteria and values. In contrast,
"Marshall County" had a culture stressing close-knit
family ties and a more diversified economy. College
47


attendance and the possible resulting out migration
established a threat in a number of families, especially
if several generations had lived there. Trainor (1993)
concluded that, "families do not necessarily reach
education decisions unilaterally. Rather, their
decisions reflect the cultural norms of their
communities...norms which individuals and families help
to create and norms which ultimately help to shape the
behaviors of these very same individuals" (p. 212).
One advantage within the Valley is Adams State
College (A.S.C.), a four-year state college located in
Alamosa, which admits 97% of Hispanics who apply. The
six-year graduation for Hispanics there is 38% (Lerner &
Nagai, 1997).
Though difficult to quantify, rural culture and its
public schools influence rural youth aspirations for
college. Rural youth grow up with community values and
expectations, and they generally observe first hand the
occupations associated with rural economies, not ones
more- exclusive to urban areas. Their community makes an
investment in them that could either indicate an insecure
48


sense of survival or giving permission to leave for
better economic opportunity. Each small town is
different, occasionally homogeneous in customs, religious
beliefs, and ethnicity. And the community high school is
a microcosm of local pride and shame, of conflicts and
consensus, and of community activity or nothing much to
do. Nevertheless, rural culture resonates into youthful
futures and aspirations.
Although the rural context affects youthful college
aspirations, the individual's family has a more profound
effect. A family's socio-economic status, the parents'
educational expectations, parental educational
attainment, all reverberate through adolescent post-
secondary decision-making.
Rural or not, parental expectations are one of the
strongest influences on college aspirations (Conklin &
Dailey, 1981; Davies & Kandel, 1981; Hossler & Stage,
1989; Lowe & Pinhoy, 1980). Conklin & Dailey (1981)
mentioned that if at any point in high school, a child
does not perceive that parents assume he or she is going
to college, then that, "substantially lowers the
49


probability of attending a four-year college" (p. 262).
As for rural parents, Elliot (1987) dolefully stated,
"several teachers expressed their frustration of not
being able to influence these students' decisions.
Instead, the greatest influence came from parents and
friends equally unfamiliar and fearful of the world
beyond their own rural communities" (p. 5). Negative
indirect effects of rural culture obviously exist in that
analysis too. Lowe & Pinhoy (1980) and Cobb et al.
(1989) also found some ratcheting down influence of rural
parental expectations.
Parental expectations, however, do not come just
from rurality. Hossler & Stage (1989) found that the
level of parental education had a positive effect on the
"predisposition" stage towards college aspirations with
the father's educational attainment having more influence
on both genders. Yang (1981) sampled 1714 rural youth
and echoed the father's educational level on aspiration,
but discovered that the mother's educational level had
more to do with actual college attendance. Indeed,
50


evidence exists that mothers exert influence in other
ways.
Four separate studies (Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Del
Castillo, Frederickson, McKenna, & Ortiz, 1988; Gandara,
1995; Watt, 1987) found strong maternal influence among
Hispanic women successful at the post secondary level.
Among minority families, recent survey research from the
National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
found 65 percent of Hispanic parents consider college
education the most important element for success. In
contrast only 35 percent of the general public feel that
way (Levinson, 2000).
Adding poverty to the family mix further changes
family influence. Davies & Kandel (1981) stated that
socioeconomic status is the strongest determinant for
parental educational expectations- Brantlinger's (1985)
qualitative study found only nine percent of parents in
poverty desired their children's college education, but
that different classes within the lower socioeconomic
range had different "floors" for higher status. For
example, some parents believed that a secretarial
51


position represented higher status, due to the skills
involved with it, despite it not being a high wage
occupation. Garcia (2001) encapsulated the economic
dilemmas facing an aspiring student raised in poverty.
After recounting how is mother and aunts viewed a high
school diploma as a "culminating event," he wrote:
Graduating from high school was a good thing to have
done. But now the real world of work should be a
priority. My mother was concerned that I was
considering going to the local community college
on a baseball scholarship. I recall very clearly
that she understood this opportunity as one related
to continuing my "playing" as opposed to continuing
my education while at the same time avoiding work,
(p. 193)
He went on to mention that within a family with few
resources, being gainfully employed has the highest
priority, even at the expense of higher education.
Another phenomenon present within some families in
poverty is to prod the smartest child or the one who
appears to have the most potential (Brantlinger, 1985;
Fitchen, 1995). To families in poverty with limited
resources, an "all the eggs in one basket" way of
thinking may logically make sense.
52


Fitchen's study (1995) on rural poor reported in
Chapter 3 summarizes several issues for those who may
aspire to college. Self-esteem, socialization in
different places, loyalty to home and community, risk
taking, and parental expectations with mixed messages all
bear on educational aspirations. Fitchen mentioned only
one boy with any aspirations to college, and, not
surprisingly, he felt he could achieve it but was not
sure if he should.
College attendance aspiration begins a higher
education quest akin to running a marathon for those
individuals who decide to try. But although each
marathon is one of individual choice and decisions
through the racecourse, one's performance or even
completion can be affected by temperature, humidity,
vicissitudes of the route, and what other runners do.
So, too, does a young adult from a rural and poverty
background weave a way through the influences of rural
culture, family, high school experience, and socio-
economic standing. On the route, he or she has to
53


gain resilience to turn aspirations into tangible dreams
and, ultimately, a college degree.
Resilience
Resilience is the ability to recoil from pressure or
shock, essentially undamaged {Funk and Wagnalls
Dictionary, 1984). Resilience maintains individuals
through day-to-day decisions and temporary setbacks. A
strong aspiration can sustain much of an individual's
resiliency, and, therefore, several influences from
college aspirations continue to bolster young adults
towards a baccalaureate. However, new curves arise, such
as marriage or family commitments, financial strains, and
cultural uneasiness for minorities and the poor.
A transition from merely talking of college
attendance to doing something about it occurs when one is
accepted to a four-year institution. Being in a college
preparation curriculum in high school certainly helps
minorities and the poor to get in (Alva, 1991; Astin,
1982; Ballesteros, 1986; Gandara, 1995; Romo & Falbo,
1996). Others have had mentors to show aspiring non-
54


middle class individuals a road map into college
(Gandara, 1995; Villanueva, 1996).
Despite these positive factors, though, the
following vignette brings out other, more insidious
factors that can derail an ambitious young Hispanic
woman. The high school counselor, her assigned "mentor,"
actually lowered expectations, and her description
implies an institutional bias towards her success.
Fortunately, her anger led her to a profound shift in her
own expectations, which strengthened her resilience:
I went to a counselor one day, because it was for
minorities, a pre-college, type, information thing,
and a bunch of us went. And the counselor, who I
hate, he said," Well, here is a state school, and
here is a couple of community colleges." And he's
like, "Here's a couple of applications." And I was
like, "I don't want to go there; those are bad
schools, I don't want to go there." And he's
like, "Well, this is as good as you're going to get.
You're not gonna get any better than this. They're
offering you a two thousand dollar
scholarship... This is as good as you're gonna get."
And I'm like, "I don't think so." So I went and I
got one of those college books (I actually stole
it), and they had little paragraphs on each college
and they rated them "highly competitive," "most
competitive," "least competitive." So I went
through and circled all the most competitive ones.
I had no idea what they were, where they were. I
had never seen a college campus. Nothing. So I
circled all those and I applied to all of them.
Just to spite him. So then when I got in, I
55


photocopied all the acceptance letters and taped
them on every teachers' door. And I said, "Don't
you ever tell me I'm not going. Don't ever tell me
that I'm not going anywhere." (Arellano & Padilla,
1996, p. 496)
Sheer will power for this individual bridged several
barriers that cripple so many others. For one, many
Hispanics go to two-year institutions but then do not use
them as stepping-stones to B.A.s (Astin, 1982; Astin &
Burciaga, 1981; Chacon, Cohen & Strover, 1986; Del
Castillo et. al., 1988; Garcia, 2001). For another,
financial sacrifice is such that many low-income or
minorities have to settle for "as good as it gets",
especially with promise of financial aid or scholarship
(Mortenson & Wu, 1990; Munoz, 1986). Also, this
individual went after even a bigger dream, acceptance
into a prestigious institution, motivated some by spite
and anger. As Dickman and Stanford-Blair (2002) aptly
stated, "Emotional processing of information from
stimulus to action is infinitely more efficient than
cognitive processing of information from stimulus to
action"(p. 67). Many settle for just being accepted.
Getting invited to the dance becomes good enough, and how
56


many high school guidance counselors, parents, or
minority, poor individuals settle for just the
invitation? And how many almost stumble into success, as
this one, who found her own personal cause propelling
her past undermining messages? She demonstrated more
than mere resilience; she had an armor of
invulnerability.
What other personal qualities, besides will power,
do poor and minority young adults need for resilience in
attaining a college degree? In an empirical study from
the 1970s, Astin (1982) identified level of parental
education, college prep curriculum, living on campus
without an outside job, and high school grade point
average as predictors of college success for minorities.
Bender & Ruiz (1974) added belief in one's ability to
control one's environment as another factor. Astin &
Burciaga (1981) noted the importance of writing skills, a
quality no doubt still needed today.
Among more recent studies Alva (1991) pointed to the
advantage of first generational status for Mexican-
Americans and a language background utilizing English.
57


While finding many family influences for highly educated
Hispanics, Gandara (1995) related the importance of a
very hard work ethic for the individuals and the parents
that modeled that to them. Possibly from that hard work
came a sincere belief in being able to do well in school
(locus of control).
Believing in one's abilities is not innate; an
enculturation process, though, can provide a road map for
Hispanic undergraduates through the maze of institutional
and societal expectations within the college experience.
Richard Rodriguez (1981), in his best selling
autobiography, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard
Rodriguez mentioned the head start he had from growing up
in an Anglo neighborhood. His immigrant parents made
their children speak English, despite their own
unfamiliarity with it.
Gandara (1995) described the enculturation that
economically poor Hispanics face upon entering college:
In poverty cultures, maladaptive responses to
schooling are transmitted through the generations by
parents who were themselves ill-suited to school,
did poorly, and failed to learn the skills necessary
to propel themselves or their progeny through the
educational system. Conversely the sons and
58


daughters of the middle class are raised to believe
that schools are supposed to serve their needs.
This sense of entitlement serves them well in
shaping the institution of school into their own
image, (p. 26)
Gandara (1995) further mentioned that middle class
families know the schools' "hidden curriculum" and coach
their offspring accordingly.
In a recent article, O'Brien and Zudak (1998)
identified risk factors for Hispanics in postsecondary
education. Delayed enrollment, part time attendance,
single parent status, working full time, caring for a
dependent, and having a GED in lieu of a diploma were
risk factors they mentioned. Twenty-seven percent of
Hispanic students had four or more of these factors,
while nineteen percent had none of the risk factors.
Back in the politically incorrect days of the 1960s,
Fogel's (1966) empirical study indicated that Hispanic
physical resemblance to Anglos gave them greater economic
potential compared to other minorities. Matching
educational achievement needed to take place first,
followed by income attainment. But within the reality of
college achievement, resemblance is not enough. Alva
59


(1991)' Alva & Padilla (1995), Arellano & Padilla (1996),
Attinasi (1989), Carter (1970), Chavez (1986), Delgado-
Gaitan (1992), Hoffer (1988), Romo & Falbo (1996), and
Sewell & Shah (1967) all made reference to the need for
some degree of enculturation for Hispanics to be
successful educationally. Attinasi (1989) mentioned
"anticipatory socialization" that nudges individuals
towards college and that Hispanic freshmen must have
cognitive maps of the physical, social, and academic
geographies. Chavez (1986) commented that too narrow a
definition of Hispanic culture by either the individual
or the larger society leaves the individual little room
to choose and expand within a new environment. In the
area of high school completion, Hoffer (1988) noted that
participation in extra curricular activities aids
enculturation and reduces the chances of dropping out.
Taking the peer enculturation idea a bit further, Gandara
(1995) noticed that the successful female Hispanic
graduates she studied frequently had maintained two sets
of friends: one from their birth culture and one from
their college culture. And Romo & Falbo (1996) pointed
60


out that more jockish cliques tended to be more
ethnically mixed, which could accentuate assimilation.
Enculturation, family influences, the work ethic,
goal setting, and will power all influence resilience. A
combination of those factors with individual
circumstances can power or hinder an undergraduate's
resolve to attain a baccalaureate. But, in order to stay
in college an individual must still meet the university's
minimum standards, or, in other words, achieve.
Achievement
Aspirations and resilience can influence
educational achievement, as well as family, social class,
high school climate, and academic background. The
tenacity and dreams described above need an academic
foundation to realize accomplishment in higher education.
Not surprisingly, participation in a college prep
curriculum in high school becomes almost necessary for
later accomplishment for students who are Hispanic,
rural, poor, or any combination thereof (Alwin & Otto,
1977; Astin, 1982; Ballesteros, 1986; Gandara, 1995;
61


Hoffer, 1988; Ramon, 1995; Romo & Falbo, 1996).
Ballesteros (1986) and Romo & Falbo (1996) add that early
ability tracking in elementary and secondary school has
done a tremendous disservice to later opportunities in a
college prep curriculum. Hoffer (1988) further
highlighted a high school's curricular power by finding
that attachment to the school is more related to success
in academic task structure than location in the school's
social constellation, while Alvin & Otto (1977) stated,
"School contexts are most important in affecting a
student's choice of peers and the type of curriculum to
which he (she) has access" (P.268). High school grade
point average can also be a good predictor of later
success (Astin & Burciagia, 1981) .
For Hispanics an "integrated" high school experience
can affect achievement, and, logically, could influence
the enculturation aspect to resilience. On the other
hand, a fractionalized high school could narrow one's
cultural outlook. Del Castillo et al. (1988) noted that
schools that are fifty percent or more Anglo have a
positive correlation with Hispanic achievement and
62


Gandara's (1995) study of Hispanic women who achieved
graduate degrees found most of her subjects attended
schools at least half Anglo. Within the Valley, the
larger high schools in Monte Vista, Alamosa, and La Jara
tend to be 50-50 Anglo and Hispanic. Smaller high
schools vary with some having large majority Hispanic
enrollments.
Donato (1999) conducted some fascinating education
history research within the San Luis Valley. Through
oral interviews, he traced an obvious pattern of
segregation between Anglos and Hispanics within public
life in Monte Vista from early in the twentieth century
through the 1950s. Del Norte had less segregation, but
Hispanics had much less success within public schools
during the same era due to retention practices and
tracking. Neither school district had more than a
handful of Hispanic teachers. Not so, though, in
isolated and sparsely populated southern Costilla County,
where the chief town is San Luis. There most teachers
and administrators were Hispanic, and Hispanics never
lost control of local government or the school board.
63


With less than half the combined school-age population of
Monte Vista, Del Norte, and Trinidad, little San Luis had
almost twice as many Hispanics attending Adams State
College in the late 1950s and early 1960s as those three
larger districts. Donato (1999) stated, "With Hispano
teachers and administrators serving as positive role
models, many Hispanos were going on to college,
graduating, and returning to the San Luis schools as
teachers to renew this cycle of success" (p. 143).
Integration and percentages of Anglos or Hispanics
or any other minority group do not necessarily reflect
social class, which also influences achievement.
Mortensen & Wu (1990) found that the chances of someone
from the bottom quartile of family income actually
completing a degree decreased in the late 1980s compared
to the two previous decades. A Hispanic in the bottom
quartile had less chance, statistically, than an Anglo or
African-American. In an empirical study, Bender & Ruiz
(1974) discovered that social class membership rather
than "racial group" was the critical factor in academic
achievement and educational aspirations. On the other
64


hand, Delgado-Gaitan (1992) stated that, "low
socioeconomic conditions limited the parents' material
resources, but did not detract from parental discipline,
scheduling time for schoolwork and bedtime, and
organizing their lives around a familiar routine (p.
512)." And White (1982), in a meta-analysis, found that
social class is a weaker correlation if the student and
her/his family were the unit of analysis versus using an
entire school or another aggregate group as the unit of
analysis. Again, though, achievement is the result, and
overcoming a permeating social class or poverty, takes
place earlier. Some families just create better
conditions for it than others.
Family size and sibling birth order offer an
interesting angle on later achievement. Zajonic (1976)
found that siblings born earlier perform better on
intelligence tests, possibly due to "teaching"
opportunities with younger siblings. The youngest
children or only children did not have those
opportunities, which Gandara (1995) also noted because
only 8% of her academically successful Hispanic female
65


subjects were last born. And Zajonic (1976) also found
that intellectual performance increases with decreasing
family size.
Although family size may influence later academic
achievement, other elements within the family unit can
also have an impact. Gandara (1995) asked rather
specific questions about what was in the birth households
of her academically successful Hispanic female subjects.
At least half lived with one avid parent reader, and 98%
reported having at least two of the following in the
home: an encyclopedia, a dictionary, a daily newspaper,
magazine subscriptions, and more than 25 books.
Educational socialization succeeded better in Mexican-
American homes that equated education with consideration
of others, kindness, respect for elders and authority.
Many verbal exchanges revolved around children's homework
(Delgado-Gaitan, 1992) while parental involvement in
schoolwork and a constant "stay in school" message
appeared to affect later academic achievement (Romo &
Falbo, 1996) Arellano & Padilla (1996) pointed out the
importance of a success enabling perspective as being so
66


important early in life, but they also made.mention of
role models and mentors later on, as did Delgado-Gaitan
(1992) regarding successful individual experiences within
church, work groups, and extended families.
Hispanic women, referred to as Chicanas by many
researchers, have specific stressors towards academic
achievement both within their families and after leaving
the nest. Fewer successful women than men mention
"mentor" relationships (Gandara, 1995), and many have
more domestic responsibilities or a conflict with those
family expectations (Chacon, Cohen, & Strover, 1986; Del
Castillo et al., 1988; Munoz, 1986). Postponing marriage
and children helped achievement, though, and Chicanas
benefited more from maternal influence and support (Astin
& Burciaga, 1981; Del Castillo et al., 1988; Gandara,
1982; Gandara, 1995). Among Hispanic undergraduates in
general, more stressors appear to exist, but even more so
for Chicanas (Olivas, 1986).
Achievement blends with aspiration and resilience,
and can be both a cause and an effect of both attitudes.
And like the other two broad influences, its fruition
67


comes from culture, family, schooling, and individual
circumstances and choices.
Aspirations, resilience, and achievement all create
a wide sea of influences for college degree attainment.
Within that, currents exist, some stronger than others,
to move individuals closer to or further away from a
baccalaureate. Circumstances such as rural culture,
rural schools, family, ethnicity, socio-economic status
and a specific environment can influence attitudes, ones
that promote success or failure or somewhere in between.
Attitudes from parents, individuals, and acculturating
experiences lead to a work ethic and will power,
necessary to later accomplishment. But do these currents
swirl about in a high, isolated Colorado valley, and, if
so, how? By the same token, do the Hispanic working poor
of the San Luis Valley experience the same influences, or
variations, and what influences are unique to a region of
special beauty and cultural blending? And do these same
i
influences play upon individual decisions to stay, to
utilize a college degree for self, or family, or culture,
and to make a difference? The answers come from San Luis
68


Valley Hispanic working poor, who attain a baccalaureate.
They may move with the same currents from the outside
world, or they may follow their own flow. Their later
decisions may lead back to extended families and a
comfortable hometown, or they may journey to the
bewitching glow of city lights over the pass and beyond.
69


CHAPTER 5
THE RESEARCH PROBLEM AND METHODOLOGY
College attendance and degree attainment is a common
expectation in many American households. Increasingly,
individuals who lack post secondary education find
themselves economically in the margins of society with
fewer choices and less income. However, not all
socioeconomic groups benefit equally from opportunities
for higher education in the United States.
U.S. Hispanics attend and graduate from college in
fewer numbers than Anglos or African-Americans (Aguirre &
Martinez, 1993; Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Ballesteros,
1986; Carter & Wilson, 1994; Chacon, Strover, & Cohen,
1986; Del Castillo, Frederickson, McKenna, & Ortiz, 1988;
Hernandez, 1997; Jaramillo, 1988; Mortenson & Wu, 1990;
Olivas, 1986; Rosenthal, 1980; Vigil, 1988). Garcia
(2001) mentioned that climbing K-12 Hispanic enrollment
has not carried over to postsecondary participation and
that just 8.9 percent of Hispanic high school graduates
applied to the University of California in 1997-1998
70


compared to 10.2 percent in 1989-1990. In contrast
elsewhere though, minority higher education students have
made recent gains, earning 18 percent of all bachelor's
degrees given in 1995, up a percentage from 1994, and
accounting for 22 percent of all four-year undergraduates
in 1995, compared to 15.3 percent in 1986. Hispanic
students increased by 5.3 percent in enrollment for 1996-
1997, the most of any American minority group (Carter &
Wilson, 1998). The most recent statistics (Wilds, 2000)
point out Hispanics females as more likely to attend
college than males, but Hispanic graduation rate in
larger institutions remaining unchanged at forty-five
percent since 1992. Hispanics continue to gravitate more
toward two-year junior colleges. Despite these optimistic
recent statistics, other factors work against degree
attainment for working poor Hispanics of the San Luis
Valley.
Considerable evidence exists that rural youth
generally have lower college aspirations than
urban/suburban youth (Armstrong, 1993; Breen & Quaglia,
1991; Cobb, Mclntire, & Pratt, 1989; Fitchen, 1995;
71


Gibbs, 1998; Haas, 1992; Lowe & Pinhoy, 1980; Marine,
1995; McCaul, 1989). One manifestation is that in 1996,
only 9.7 percent of the rural workforce had a B.A.,
compared to 17.2 percent of urban workers (Ghelfi &
McGranahan, 1998). On the other hand, mitigating
circumstances may impact a correlation between rurality
and lowered educational expectations. Haller & Virkler
(1993) attributed lowered rural education aspirations to
socio-economic circumstances and family dynamics, whereas
Nelson (1973) contended that greater participation in
extra-curricular activities among rural high school
students tends to create more college aspiration. Adding
to Haller & Virkler's (1993) contention are a number of
empirical and qualitative studies tying poverty or lower
socio-economic standing with less educational achievement
and aspiration in K-12 education as well as college
degree attainment (Bender & Ruiz, 1974; Brantlinger,
1992; Buriel & Saenz, 1980; Davies & Kandel, 1981; De La
Rosa, 2000; Fitchen, 1995; Mortenson & Wu, 1990; Rist,
1970; Sewell & Shah, 1967; White, 1982).
72


The extensive historical poverty within the San Luis
Valley creates a need to study those who have grown up in
it and climbed out of it. And the Valley counties with
the highest proportion of Hispanic citizens, Conejos and
Costila counties, also have the highest poverty rates
(Colorado MapStats, 2001).
Thus, San Luis Valley economically poor Hispanics
who choose college attendance and a subsequent degree
confront three currents: their ethnicity, their
rurality, and their poverty. Adding individual personal
weaknesses, specific family circumstances, and unforeseen
external events, those individuals who accomplish their
college dreams seem quite extraordinary. They break the
mold. That accomplished, though, they may discover that
the rural economy cannot always offer them economically
sustaining employment, as these mold breakers face the
"rural dilemma" of whether to stay or migrate (Hull,
1994).
The recent in-migration of residents to
nonmetropolitan areas, mentioned earlier, as well as
occupations using technology close to home, can create
73


(
opportunities for nonmigrating rural residents. Should
the trend continue, ambitious Valley youth possessing
college degrees might more easily stay in their childhood
communities sharing their talents and providing role
models for younger, aspiring Valley citizens. The
insidious rural dilemma of having to move to a city to
fully utilize a hard won college degree, or to stay and
live with less, may change or disappear.
If, indeed, rural America, and the San Luis Valley
in particular, is on the verge of reversing previous
trends, with a new economic and/or cultural resurgence to
anticipate, then its citizens need to know how some
overcome odds to attain a college degree, and, then, how
and why they succeed. The Valley Hispanic community
benefits, and that, in turn, impacts the entire Valley.
Those remarkable people, the subjects of this study, who
have overcome possible negative educational impacts of
rurality, ethnicity, and poverty, and then became
successful citizens, have much to teach us. Knowing the
elements and whys behind their success should not be kept
a secret from the rest of the Valley. For these mold
74


breakers can, in turn, create decisions and programming
in the Valley and other rural environs to aid other
residents and later generations.
Some similar research exists. Knisley (1992)
researched the aspirations of rural youth in poverty who
planned to pursue college, but he did not follow them up
to find out who realized their ambitions, nor examine a
particular ethnic group. Gandara (1982 & 1995) studied
Hispanics from backgrounds of poverty that obtained
advanced degrees, but most came from urban California.
Hull (1994) remarked:
Little research is available on the influence of the
rural community on adult development and
occupational success. The majority of research on
youth life choices has been focused on urban
settings. As a result the urban focus...
has hindered understanding effects of rural schools
and communities on the educational and occupational
aspirations of rural youth. However increasing
economic and social stresses in rural areas
necessitate that attention be given to this
population if small, rural communities are to
survive, (p. 2)
Knowing the experiences that a selected group of San
Luis Valley working poor Hispanics had that led to a
college degree and subsequent success, will provide
knowledge and guideposts for others following a similar
75


pathway. Although each individual studied in the project
has had unique experiences and perceptions, what these
experiences mean to them will enhance our understanding
of this phenomenon. Deeper understanding of their
experiences through detailed description and analysis can
lead to applications for others who wish to attain a
college degree, despite aspects of poverty, rurality, and
ethnicity that may work against them. Research can lead
to ways to maximize a positive phenomenon that some
experience towards a more encompassing one for all.
The Research Questions
The purpose of this study is to describe the
phenomenon of college degree attainment and subsequent
leadership within the San Luis Valley for working poor
Hispanics. The qualitative description concentrates on
the meaning of the experience to the research
participants, later leading to a description of the
essence of the phenomenon. The purpose creates a
question:
76


What meaningful experiences do poverty stricken
Hispanics of the San Luis Valley describe that led to
college degree attainment and later leadership within the
Valley?
Underlying the research question are several
subquestions that guide the data analysis to quite an
extent:
What are the themes and contexts of this
experience?
Do structural meanings exist for this
phenomenon, and, if so, what are they?
What are the universal structures that
precipitate feelings and thoughts about the
experience?
What are the invariant structural themes that
facilitate a description of this experience?
Which experiences appear to be the most
motivating for San Luis Valley working poor
Hispanics in attaining a college degree
Which experiences appear to be most
motivating towards later leadership for
77


working poor Hispanics within the San Luis
Valley?
Methodology
This study's data are from recorded interviews of
successful, degreed, San Luis Valley Hispanics who grew
up in working poor backgrounds. Selecting a qualitative
approach allows for detailed exploration utilizing
information shared by those closest to the phenomenon,
the ones who experienced it. With suitable, thick
description, it can uncover initial pathways to other
perspectives to the phenomenon such as quantitative data,
in depth studies of certain themes, or new
interpretations of similar data.
Creswell (1998) pointed out several bases in
addition to my own. For starters, this research is an
initial investigation about a specific group that does
not answer questions comparing it to other groups.
Qualitative research tends to answer questions of a
"what" or "how" nature, as does the question of what
meaningful experiences do degreed, working poor Valley
78


Hispanics have while attaining a college degree and later
becoming leaders. Uncovering what experiences the
subjects report can lead to new conceptual horizons,
either unique to this study or generalizable in similar
studies with other populations. That can back up later
quantitative research exploring the "whys," checking for
cause and effect and relationship variables that confirms
or denies existing theory. The Valley needs to know "how"
Hispanic working poor succeed educationally and as
contributing citizens, before someone explores the "why"
that may later lead to means of maximizing the
phenomenon.
In order to uncover the appropriate "whys," this
study provides detailed description of data to rule in or
rule out themes and patterns. The textural and
structural description should lead the reader to empathy
close to being right there with the study's subjects. As
an analogy, when Zebulon Pike, the Valley's first Anglo
explorer, wrote of his experiences there, he wrote only a
narrative diary of events. In contrast, Lewis and Clark
of a few years earlier returned with a rich description
79


based on detailed recorded observation of the northern
part of the Louisiana Purchase. Their explorations had a
lasting impact, and provided many questions for the
"whys" to benefit from new American territory. And poor
Zeb Pike just ended up getting captured by the Spanish.
Thus, this research about a sociological and educational
phenomenon utilizes the Lewis and Clark treatment, a
detailed story and description of first hand experiences
as reported by the participants. What to report and
emphasize and how to analyze the extensive accounts then
entail choosing among methodologies best suited for the
phenomenon.
Phenomenology
Out of the various qualitative methodologies, I
selected phenomenological research. This study describes
a phenomenon from self-reported experiences, and what
follow is a more detailed description of and
justification for this qualitative method.
Karl Marx and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel had a
point. Their nineteenth century concept of pendulum
80


swings in human outlooks applies very well to the twenty-
first century and the Information Age. Marx and Hegel
created the "dialectic" conceived of as thesis, followed
by an opposing viewpoint called the antithesis, which
leads to a new viewpoint that blends thesis and
antithesis into a synthesis. And then the cycle begins
anew as the "synthesis" becomes a new thesis that leads
to antithesis ad. infinitum (Durant, 1953; Frost, 1962).
For example, the Old Testament conceives of an all-
powerful God of Creation (thesis), while the New
Testament gives humanity a God of forgiveness and
unconditional love (antithesis), and modern Christianity
takes elements from both concepts (synthesis). Meanwhile
new antitheses in reaction to the Christian thesis arise
all the time. As another instance, a proletariat
democracy or mob rule (antithesis) arose from the ashes
of the French monarchy in the late eighteenth century
(thesis), which led to the Napoleonic regime, decidedly
anti-royal, but with a degree of civil order (synthesis).
Later European revolutions in 1830 and 1848 gave an
antithesis to the Napoleonic idea. Within Western
81


intellectual history, the Renaissance, a man centered
phenomenon, was the antithesis to the God and Church
centered life of the Mediaeval Age, but later on the
Enlightenment synthesized human explanations for realms
previously reserved for the Church. Physics would
explain many aspects of Nature, while leaving some
creation mysteries to faith.
After various cycles of the dialectic since the
eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment, also called
the Age of Reason, manifests with the primacy of
scientific explanations for considerable observed or
theoretical phenomena at the close of the twentieth
century. Now, most diseases have scientific explanations
that, in many cases, lead to cures. Humans are able to
quantify the heavens by counting the stars or even the
galaxies, all within a scientific theory of the nature of
the universe. Within the twentieth century, human
behavior has had an objectified and quantified
explanation called behaviorism based on a fairly simple
idea of stimulus and response. But no "simple"
explanation can account for the many expressions of
82


human behavior, and, thus, the seeds for an antithesis to
empiricism begin to germinate.
The study of human beings, their activities, their
motives, their experiences, or their inner selves does
not lend itself easily to quantification or categories
rigidly determined. Luckmann (1973) pointed out this
ongoing dilemma in the social sciences. On the one hand
is a tendency to reduce human beings to man-machines,
vacated by "soul," and congruent to scientific laws of
nature. On the other hand, some advocate that humans are
completely removed from Nature with Nature being nothing
but a measurable space-time manifold. "Social science"
does not exist, only artistic and intuitive
reconstructions of the unfolding of the mind. A dilemma
framed in that manner begs for a synthesis.
The philosophy of phenomenology and research methods
that come from it provide one. The individual most
associated with it, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), was a
German philosopher who began as a logician. Many
consider him the father of "phenomenology," although
Hegel wrote of it previously, and Martin Heidegger (1889-
83


1976) expanded its implications to modern existentialism.
Philosophy is usually a thick and deep explanation of the
nature of reality that does not lend itself to sound
bytes. Nonetheless, Husserl's conception of reality
moved away from the objectivity of empiricism to replace
it with the primacy of human consciousness. To
synthesize the social science dilemma mentioned above:
Husserl distinguishes between the natural and
phenomenological standpoint. The former is our
ordinary everyday viewpoint and the ordinary stance
of the natural sciences, describing things and
states of affairs. The latter is the special
viewpoint achieved by the phenomenologist, as he or
she focuses not on things but our consciousness of
things. (Solomon & Higgens, 1996, p. 251)
Our consciousness of the thing is the reality of the
object. Our subjectivity, coming from our consciousness,
is as important as the objective measures and descriptors
we apply to a thing physically outside ourselves.
Take, for example, a tree-a cottonwood tree-by
itself in the middle of a field. Various objective
explanations of the tree exist that are part of our
consciousness of it, such as what it consists of, its
ability to reproduce itself, its recognizable shape as a
tree, and the various reasons as to why it is a
84


cottonwood tree and not another kind. Most mature humans
also share these explanations as part of a common
consciousness of what this thing is. Yet this particular
tree has different knowledges swirling about it. One
person may view its leaf changes each year as a sure sign
of autumn. Another may have proposed to her/his future
spouse underneath it. An artist may have a shimmering
Impressionist memory of that same tree, while someone
else sees it as a property line. Members of another
culture may believe that the tree has a soul, part of a
wider pantheistic conception of the world, though another
group may view the tree as an obstacle to intensive and
immediate horticulture.
These different viewpoints about a tree point to
different meanings for those experiencing the phenomenon
of the tree. The search for the meaning of a conscious
experience is one "reduction" that Husserl applies to
understanding the phenomenon. Another is the "epoche"
wherein the phenomenologist "brackets" all questions of
truth and reality and simply describes the contents of
consciousness (Solomon & Higgins, 1996). Heidegger, as
85


an Existentialist, placed additional importance upon the
meaning, searching for its "essence" leading towards a
meaning for existence. Another aspect that a
phenomenologist brings is knowledge of "a priori"
structures that everyone has about things. Someone who
believes that a tree has a soul or that it is a direct
extension of God has an "a priori" structure in
consciousness about that tree. A homosexual individual
would have an "a priori" bias or desire towards someone
of the same gender, as would a heterosexual towards the
opposite gender. Those "a priori" structures guide
"meaning" for individuals as, "meaning is inherent in
perception" (Tiryakian, 1973, p. 195).
What implications do these ideas have for
qualitative research, specifically in the social
sciences? For one, the phenomenological researcher is
looking at how subjects experience the world through
their a priori structures. The subjects' structures, as
well as the researcher's, are data, not a source of error
as the positivists would believe, nor an ideology to be
unmasked as the Marxists believe (Tiryakian, 1973).
66


Swingewood (1991) reportd on Alfred Schutz's
phenomenological research that advocated bracketing away
all scientific presuppositions about the socio-historical
world. Analysis and understanding of the world comes
from the actions and consciousness of subjects who strive
to construct and make sense of reality. Meaning is not
waiting passively to be discovered but requires active
construction, for both the subjects and the researcher.
The researcher is examining how subjects accept the
everyday world, their "natural attitude," as well as
accounting for ways individuals define and reflect upon
their specific situations or action.
The phenomenologist changes the definition of data.
He or she proposes that raw social science data is not
discarded, using a purifying instrument as an empiricist
might do (Luckmann, 1973). The researcher utilizes the
intersubjective commonalities of the world, which has
conforming meaning through language, rules, roles and
statuses (Swingewood, 1991). He or she also realizes
that phenomena are immediately given states of affairs
rather than empirical posits (Natanson, 1973) because
87


phenomenology does not recognize a subject-object
dichotomy (Stewart & Mickunas, 1974). The investigator
deals with phenomena in both descriptive and analytical
ways with the description being thick as a perquisite for
adequate analysis. Natanson (1973) highlights its
antithesis to the natural sciences as:
The price paid for accepting the logic of the
natural sciences as unquestionably the proper
instrument for the study of man is the avoidance of
the richness of everyday life, its wealth of subtly
structured typifications, its remarkable
prepredictive organization, and its history of
sedimented meanings which brings to the present the
intonations of human continuity, (pp. 38-39)
This perspective that promotes thickly textured
descriptions in a search for essential meanings to an
experience has specific research techniques associated
with it. The phenomenological researcher utilizes the in
depth interview, considering it a discourse or
conversation because, "Participants are human subjects-
that is, they are actors (the subjects of sentences);
they are not objects (passive recipients of stimuli)"
(Polkinghorne, 1989, p. 47). The researcher puts a
premium on details even utilizing previously developed
metaphor or myth to probe into imagination and
88


perception. He or she is likely to ask questions such
as, "What did you experience?" or "What was it like for
you?" instead of "What happened?" (Polkinghorne, 1989)
All along the researcher is attempting to set aside
prejudgments as much as possible and to be completely
open, receptive, and naive in listening to research
participants describe their experience of the phenomenon
(Moustakas, 1994). Perception remains the primary source
of knowledge.
Once the researcher has completed the interviews and
transcriptions, he or she embarks on three general steps:
epoche, reduction, and then imaginative variation
(Moustakas, 1994). The epoche is revisiting the
phenomenon without pre-judgment. The reduction is
writing a textural description of not just what one sees
visually, but also what one "sees" as the internal acts
of consciousness, the experience as such, and the rhythm
and relationship between phenomenon and self. This
involves bracketing, then placing each statement on an
equal plain (horizonaling), followed by assigning
textural meanings to those horizons. Then the researcher
89


clusters the horizons into themes and completes the
reduction by organizing the horizons and themes into a
coherent textural description. The purpose of the
imaginative variation that follows is to analyze data to
describe the structures of the experience. The
researcher seeks possible meanings by utilizing
imagination, varying the frames of reference, employing
polarities and reversals, and approaching the phenomenon
from divergent perspectives. He or she is trying to
discover the "how" which speaks to conditions that
illuminate the "what"(Moustakas, 1994).
Again, the overall aim is to find meanings and
essences for the phenomenon. With description and
perception as the data, the researcher then constructs a
combined textural-structural description of the
experience for each individual.. These go together into a
composite textural-structural description of the meaning
and essences of the experience for the group as a whole.
This final description is a synthesis of the meaning and
essences of the phenomenon (Moustakas, 1994).
Generalizability comes not from population
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Full Text

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INFLUENCES ON DEGREE ATTAINMENT AND LEADERSHIP AMONG SAN LUIS VALLEY HISPANICS: A QUALITATIVE STUDY by Robert D. Jenkins, Jr. B.A., The Colorado College, 1972 M.A., The Colorado College, 1979 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado-Denver in partial fulfillment of. the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Educational Leadership and Innovation 2002 t

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by Robert D. Jenkins, Jr. All rights reserved.

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This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Robert D. Jenkins, Jr. has been approved by Rod Muth

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Jenkins, Robert D. Jr. (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation) Influences on Degree Attainment and Leadership Among San Luis Valley Hispanics: A Qualitative Study Thesis directed by Associate Dean Nadyne Guzman ABSTRACT This study examines rural San Luis Valley, Colorado Hispanics raised in working poor families, who attained college degrees and have become local leaders. The San Luis Valley is an immense, isolated mountain valley, characterized by a local Hispanic culture tracing lineage to Spanish colonials of past centuries. Utilizing a phenomenological, in depth interviewing approach with a small sample (10), the research uncovered influences and behavior that included: 1) significant individuals promoting college attendance; 2) goal orientations; 3) economic influences; and 4) giving back to the community. Leadership issues included influences in Anglo-Hispanic relationships, perceived Anglo dominance, the role of Hispanic females, and influence of higher education. The sample participants tended to blend accommodation with iv

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Anglos alongside Hispanic centric tendencies to become successful leaders. The strongest and most crucial influence on degree attainment was significant individuals, usually parents and teachers. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. v

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DEDICATION I dedicate this thesis to all citizens of the San Luis Valley, Colorado.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I wish to thank the staff of the Nielson Library at Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado, for their ongoing assistance and suggestions. I am especially grateful to Robert Kelly and Debra West of the Interlibrary Loan Department. I also wish to thank and acknowledge the Fowler R-4J School District, Fowler, Colorado; the North Conejos RelJ School District, La Jara, Colorado; and the South Conejos School District Re-10 for allowing me time away from my professional duties to pursue this degree. I remain grateful to professional associates Dr. Larry Vibber, Dr. Tim Snyder, Kurt Carey, and Carol Harris for their assistance and inspiration. Finally I greatly appreciate the assistance of my dissertation committee for their suggestions and guidance. I sincerely value Nadyne Guzman, my dissertation committee chair, who grew up in the San Luis Valley and provided me with invaluable direction and supervision in research benefiting her home and mine.

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CONTENTS CHAPTER 1 EL VALLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Rurality ............................. 4 2. CITIZENSHIP IN THE VALLEY ............... 14 Hispanos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Home or the Other Side of the Mountains .................... 23 3 RURAL POVERTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 3 Hispanic Families ................... 37 Poverty and Near Poverty ............ 40 4. THE ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION ........... 44 Aspirations . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Resilience .......................... 54 Achievement ......................... 61 5. THE RESEARCH PROBLEM AND METHODOLOGY . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 0 The Research Questions .............. 76 Methodology ......................... 78 Phenomenology ....................... 80 viii

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Researching Hispanic Populations ......................... 91 Research Respondents ............... 97 Data Analysis .................... 101 Pilot Study . . . . . . . . . . . 113 6. FINDINGS ............................. 119 Individuals Promoting College Attendance ............... 121 Textural Description . . . . 121 Structural Description ...... 129 Goal Orientation ................. 135 Textural Description ........ 135 Structural Description ...... 139 Economic Influences .............. 144 Textural Description ........ 144 Structural Description ...... 147 Giving Something Back ............ 152 Textural Description . . . . 152 Structural Description . . . 154 Hispanic-Anglo Leadership 158 Textural Description 158 Structural Description ...... 161 ix

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Issues with Anglo Dominance ....... 165 Textural Description ........ 165 Structural Description ...... 167 Issues for Hispanic Women 169 Textural Description 169 Structural Description ...... 173 Higher Education and Leadership .. 175 Textural Description ........ 175 Structural Description ...... 176 7. ESSENCE OF PHENOMENON, DISCUSSION OF IMPLICATIONS, RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS, AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY. . . . . . . . . . . . 180 Essence of the Phenomenon ........ 180 Discussion of Implications 183 Recommendations for Further Study . . . . . . . . . . 189 Significance of the Study . . . . 191 8. PROLOGUE AS POSTLUDE ................ 193 APPENDIX A. RESEARCH SUBJECTS .................... 204 B. INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................ 207 REFERENCES ................................... 214 X

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CHAPTER 1 EL VALLE Just north of the New Mexico-Colorado state line lies the San Luis Valley, home to 46190 residents. The people, of whom 46.5% are Hispanic and the remainder generally Anglo, live 120 miles from Colorado's urbanized Front Range, isolated in a valley of 8193 square miles, the size of Connecticut (Colorado MapStats, 2001) This study concentrates on one segment of San Luis Valley (the Valley) population, the Hispanic working poor, and investigates why some attain a college degree and, after graduation, become successful citizen leaders while remaining in the Valley. How and why do they make these choices, and how do they succeed in reaching their goals? Answers lie within a plethora of cultural, family, and individual differences, even among the Valley's relatively sparse population. Yet behind these differences is the Valley itself, a unique domain of special sociological and geographical factors that shape its.people. 1

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Having resided in the Valley for much of my adult life, I consider it home. My observations about daily life in the Valley, unattributed to specific sources, come not only from living there, but also from exploring my chosen home, a place quite unlike Cincinnati, Ohio, where I grew up. With outsider's eyes, I also focus with the lens of a Valley citizen, and my underlying reason for embarking on this research is to benefit the Valley and the people I will continue to live with. As the new century begins, I believe the San Luis Valley has a viable economic and cultural future. Despite modern highways snaking over the few passes into the San Luis Valley, it remains isolated with a distinct geographic identity. The high slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the eastern side and the San Juan Mountains on the western slope create a literal and symbolic barrier between the Valley and the rest of the world. The Valley floor has altitudes ranging from 7600 to 8800 feet with surrounding mountains over 14,000 feet high. Nearby peaks with names like Storm King, the Guardian, Crestone Needle, and the Blanca Massif allude 2

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to geographical toughness, and some Valley inhabitants believe that bitterly cold winter temperatures of -30 or -40, as well as vast distances between towns, keep out less hardy and resourceful outsiders. The world's largest alpine valley, the San Luis Valley stretches about one hundred miles north to south, narrowing in the north where. the Sangre de Cristos and the San Juans meet at Poncha Pass. Eighty miles across at its midpoint, the Valley remains arid, almost a desert, with the mighty Rio Grande River flowing through, its tributaries outlined by thick stands of cottonwoods along the banks. In between, the frigid winters and cool summers allow chico and sagebrush to grow, but low lying areas support cattails and grasses. In this rich agricultural area, enterprising farmers and ranchers can grow hay, potatoes, wheat, and barley. Life in the Valley has limits. Unlike the endless sky of the Great Plains or the blended, green hills of rural Appalachia, the mountains demarcate the Valley's horizon. A resident wakes up each morning and can see, quite precisely, the Valley borders from the outlines of 3

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distant or nearby peaks. And the seasons limit, too. A frost shortly after Labor Day, followed by below zero temperatures in October, can quickly end a summer folks have just gotten used to. They retreat inside to wait for a teaser spring, which, when it even comes, does not become apparent until May, as carefully attended gardens bloom with delicate, blue or red Colorado columbines, and robust cottonwoods shake clattering leaves in the wind. The vast countryside lures the people outdoors, again, like busy squirrels or marmots accumulating winter stores, though the mountain chains still stand in the way of the rest of the world. Such a place creates its own kind of rurality. Rurality Despite the above noted unique environmental aspects, the Valley does share a number of similar characteristics with rural America. Economics, culture, and population scarcity clearly place the San Luis Valley within the milieu of the rural United States. 4

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The term "rural" in contemporary Ameri<;:a has competing definitions. Cousins (1984} declared that a typical rural community does not exist, but others describe rural communities and the land in between from a variety of perspectives. A U.S. Census Bureau interpretation has classified "rural" as any place with fewer than 2500 inhabitants, the U.S. Department of Labor delimits it as counties having fewer than 2500 people, but the Rural Development Act describes it as any place outside a town of 10,000 population (Carmichael, 1982}. However, as Rosenfeld & Sher (1977} mention, a residential enclave of 2000 people fifteen miles from a city would be called "rural," when a community of 2600 citizens hundreds of miles from a city, would be "urban." Clearly, population statistics by themselves do not adequately define rurality, but population scarcity within the Valley creates a very tangible rurality. Only one county out of six, Alamosa County, has more than 10,000 population, and no towns have more than 10,000 citizens (Colorado MapStats, 2001}. The nearest urban areas are Pueblo, Colorado, 120 miles away, and 5

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Santa Fe, New Mexico, a similar distance south. In addition, distances between population centers within the Valley are vast. Someone living in the county seat towns of Saguache, Creede, or San Luis, all located within the Valley, must travel a minimum of forty-five miles, one way, to a hospital or full-sized, low price supermarket. The Creede, Saguache, Moffat, and Sangre de Cristo school districts each encompass hundreds of square miles, yet find themselves competing in eight-man football or no gridiron at all. Populations of Valley towns concentrate in Alamosa (7960), the regional center, and Monte Vista (4529), which serves the wealthier agricultural areas of the Valley's western side (American FactFinder, 2000). Parts of Conejos, Saguache, and Rio Grande counties have more densely populated rural areas associated with agricultural activity; but nonetheless, the two lane highways still go through countryside where only the remains of adobe walls or lost, abandoned farmhouses sometimes punctuate the flat land. The population stays clustered in certain locales. 6

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Except for a brief time in the 1970s & Robertson, 1978), rural America has lost population and economic viability for most of the twentieth century. As recently as 1986-1987, U.S. rural areas hemorrhaged one million outmigrators (O'Hare, 1988), and from the 1940s to the 1960s the number of farms fell from 5.9 million to 3 million (Patterson, 1996) as people sought significantly higher wages elsewhere (Carmichael, 1982; Dillman & Tremblay, 1977). Recent trends, though, point to a net in-migration of residents for rural areas (Fulton, Fuguitt, & Gibson, 1997), but continued net loss of young people going to college in urban areas (Gibbs, 1995 & 1998) Economic activity differentiates rural from metropolitan areas. American rural economies have stayed tied to the land, frequently victim to falling crop or mineral prices, and are less elastic and varied than urban economies (Deavers & Brown, 1985; Huang & Howley, 1991) Despite a common misconception of rural places being primarily agricultural, only one of eleven rural jobs is farm related (DeYoung, 1993) A study of 2443 7

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non-metropolitan U.S. counties came up with these eight primary economic activities: farming, mining, manufacturing, retirement, government services, federal lands, persistent poverty, and unclassified (DeYoung, 1993). Retail activity and, increasingly the service sector, (Van Hook, 1993) are present in small and medium sized communities, where the biggest employer is often the local public schools (Crihfield, 1991) With the addition of tourism, the above description of rural economic activity fits the San Luis Valley quite well. Twelve school districts employ administrators, teachers, support personnel, while reinvesting tax dollars into local retail and service entities. The Valley grows some of the world's finest potatoes, supplies barley and hops for the Coors Brewery, and a number of Guatemalan refugees work at a large mushroom farm. Ranching with sheep and cattle occupy much of the land not suitable for growing crops. Many aspire to prized steady employment with county and town governments or the U.S. Forest Service that manages the enormous Rio Grande National Forest. Silver and gold mines have 8

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recently had a tenuous existence, though the town of Creede stays proud of its hard rock mining heritage. Perlite mines on the Valley's southern end still provide employment for Conejos and Costilla counties. To the west, "snow bird" retirees are purchasing summer homes in the South Fork area, while their slightly less affluent peers fill extensive RV parks along the Rio Grande River. Little manufacturing exists, mainly due to transportation problems out of an isolated region and no proximity to the national interstate highway system. Poverty is ever present in the San Luis Valley, especially in the two southern counties bordering New Mexico. With Colorado's two most economically depressed counties, Costilla and Conejos (Colorado MapStats, 2001), the Valley generally has higher poverty rates and lower per capita incomes than the rest of the state. Nord (1997) tracked 535 counties, twenty-five percent of all nonmetropolitan U.S. counties. He defined these counties as persistently poor because they had poverty rates exceeding twenty percent in each census since 1960. Surprisingly, from 1989 to 1994, per capita income rose 9

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by 10.7% for these counties, twice the rate of other nonmetropolitan U.S. counties. Not so, though, for the San Luis Valley. Of .the fifty-seven persistently poor counties across America showing a decline in per capita income, five percent are in the Valley: Saguache, Rio Grande, and Costilla. Conejos County had a per capita income of $13585 as of 1997 (Colorado MapStats, 2001) Colorado had only one other persistently poor county, Crowley County on the southeastern plains. Nord (1997) further describes persistently poor counties as remote from urban centers, having a high proportion of Hispanic or Native American inhabitants, and being disproportionately agricultural. Part of this phenomenon comes from a significantly lower rurat wage scale (Ghelfi, 1988; Gorham, 1992; Hansen, 1970; O'Hare, 1988; Porter, 1989; United States National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty, 1967; Rodgers & Weiher, 1986). Duncan (1992) relates one startling statistic that, "In 1987 over a quarter of all rural workers with four years of college or more earned less than the poverty level for a family of four, up from 10

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17.8 percent in 1979" (p. 29). For many rural areas, the lower wage scale correlates with lower housing costs, but as Hansen (1970) remarked, cheaper land and lower tax rates generally mean a lower level of services. Older statistics show home ownership rates are higher for the rural poor compared to metro areas, with forty percent paying property taxes versus twenty-eight percent in the cities (Ghelfi, 1988; O'Hare, 1988; Rodgers & Weiher, 1986). The 2000 census indicates a 78.8% home ownership level in the Valley's Conejos County despite the wage scale being about half of Colorado's average. Nearby Costilla County mirrors the same statistics and both counties have higher home ownership levels than Colorado's average at 67.3% (Colorado MapStats, 2001). The San Luis Valley reflects rural American culture as well. Not so easily defined by statistics, rural culture nonetheless exists, and remains in contrast to the urban/suburban culture of Colorado's Front Range and other parts of the United States. Anyone who lives in a rural community realizes that the town itself appears to be quite inter-related by blood, marriage, or from just 11

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living side by side for a long time (Peshkin, 1978) Luloff & Miller (1981) characterized, 11rural culture as being provincial, socially conservative, slow changing, traditional, and somewhat fatalistic11 (p. 611). On the other hand, Goudy (1977) stated glowingly, 11residents find most satisfying those relationships, where local people participate and take pride in civic affairs, where decision making is shared, where residents are heterogeneous, and where people are committed to the community and its upkeep11 (p. 380). Unlike an urban location, single events can suddenly change a small town, and the issue of community survival stays just beneath the surface. In 1998, for the second time in ten years, outside interests attempted to undermine the ability of.the San Luis Valley to hold onto water in its underlying aquifer. Realizing a direct threat to economic and cultural viability, Valley citizens rallied to defeat the statewide ballot initiatives, while building a regional coalition. However, in sharp contrast, elsewhere in the Valley, forgotten community dreams wither in hamlets and 12

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crossroads passed by hamlets and crossroads with names of naive optimism like Richfield, Bountiful, and Bonanza. From an observer's eye, some parts of the Valley such as Alamosa appear to be growing, while the empty storefronts in Del Norte and Sanford indicate the precarious nature of community existence. And an influx of outsiders, urban refugees or retirees, may very well lead to a clash of cultures: expectations of urban services versus doing without the unaffordable, different values versus long evolved community ones, or new types of people versus the predictable and familiar. Thus, geographical limits, population scarcity, economy, and culture blend and shape the San Luis Valley's rurality, just as in so many other country locales. However, the Valley' uniqueness --its magic-comes from its people, sequestered in a vast mountain neighborhood, but with a special ethnic blending. 13

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CHAPTER 2 CITIZENSHIP IN THE VALLEY Although social and cultural fissures exist in any community, rural residents attend the same schools, shop at the same stores, and go to community events, regardless of social standing or status. Community youth observe occupational models that manifest the rural economy, while perceived deviant behavior, whether illegal or not, can result in a cruel accountability as gossip and rumor spread. Residents can network with the local power structure because they went to high school with the county commissioner or knew her/his father quite well. Likewise, long-time residents who mind their behavior have more local say than newcomers. Valley residents are active along already established networks of human interaction (Glidewell, et al.,1998). Social and political relationships come from occupations, church, projects, and lifestyles. People in leadership positions receive a degree of respect for their title, but in a small population environment they 14

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have to earn ongoing deference from interactions with people they might normally be shielded from in a cosmopolitan society. To paraphrase from 2000 U.S. Presidential election sound bytes, Valley leaders practice one on one "retail" leadership, rather than large group "wholesale" leadership. Unlike in urban areas, local democracy and leadership does not arise from mastery of the media or among competing groups that do not know one another. It comes from knowing individuals and their families or long held acquaintances. One skill local leaders do need is access to external information (Nylander, 1998), leading to government or private grants that are easier to obtain with the Valley's poverty and ethnic mix. Ethnic tensions between Anglos and Hispanics certainly do exist at times, usually over a specific set of issues, although most governing boards and elected entities reflect the ethnic breakdown of local population. After all, everyone realizes that the person whom a leader disparages publicly is the same one that the leader will see the next day picking over the produce 15

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at the local Most certainly, an instant accountability exists in the Valley. Hispanos With about equal sized Valley populations, neither Hispanic nor Anglos are "minorities" within the region. However, such even numbers are not present in all areas of the San Luis Valley, and a significant Guatamalan community also exists within Alamosa. For this study, the term "Anglo" means non-Hispanic Caucasians, who trace their ancestry from a variety of European countries. On the other hand, the term "Hispanic" has different implications depending largely on which U.S. region it represents. Many Hispanics reside in Florida, where most are Cuban-Americans. New York City has been home for many of Puerto Rican ancestry, another Hispanic group with its own cultural identity. In the southwest United States and southern California, quite a number of Hispanics trace their lineage to the nation of Mexico, and still others have come from different Latin American countries. "Hispanic" is about as easy to define as 16

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"American", as evidenced by several synonyms like "Latino," "Chicano," or "Mexican-American." Like a majority of Americans, many Hispanic families originally immigrated to the United States from other countries. However, not all of them did. No Hispanics or Anglos lived in the San Luis Valley until 1853, five years after the United States acquired the area in the Mexican War. That year, Hispanics from what is present day northern New Mexico created the settlement of San Luis, and within a few years others had settled near Del Norte and Conejos on the western side of the Valley. These Hispanics came from a long-standing culture begun in the 1600s in the northern reaches of Spain's empire in the Western Hemisphere. Nostrand (1992) refers to these Hispanics as "Hispanos," originally of Spanish ancestry, who intermarried with nearby Pueblo Indians, immigrant Anglos, and people from Mexico. That blending coupled with the geographical isolation of northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley resulted in what Nostrand calls a "homeland." He further describes the idea as: 17

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The concept of a "homeland," although abstract and elusive, has at least three basic elements: a place, a people, and identity with place. The people must have lived in a place long enough to have adjusted to its natural environment and to have left their impress in the form of a cultural landscape. And from their interactions with the natural and cultural totality of the place, they must have developed and identity with the land -emotional feelings of attachment, desires to possess, even compulsion to defend. Hispanos developed such a level of consciousness about their land. (p. 214) The Hispanics of the San Luis Valley, by and large, are not "Mexican-Americans," but, instead, were the original settlers. Intermarriage and twentieth century cultural influences are changing the Hispano sub-culture (Nostrand, 1992), and it is gradually becoming assimilated with the surrounding cultural landscape. Vestiges of their ancient culture, such as a Castilian Spanish dialect (Nostrand, 1992), will disappear, but not the idea of the Valley being an integral part of their culture. Hispanic roots in the Valley remain very deep. Does this culture produce effective leaders and successful citizens? When the United States acquired northern New Mexico in 1848, the incoming Anglos allowed Hispanic political traditions to continue, that Garcia and De La Garza (1977) refer to as an internal 18

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colonialism model of political power. However, while not supplanting local culture, Americans took control of the area with military presence, national and territorial law, and new ways of doing commercial business. Hispanic leaders now had to answer, not only to their own people, but also to Anglos who controlled the legal and military power. Yet history has interesting ways of repeating itself. Just as northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley had been outliers of the Spanish Empire and the Mexican nation, they still had that status within America's new western territories. After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican War, Congress did not require allegiance to the new nation nor adoption of English. Thirty years later in the 1870s, the New Mexican territorial legislature spoke only Spanish, also the language within all the schools. Furthermore, few opportunities existed for isolated rural communities to utilize English, with even jury trials done in Spanish (Gonzalez, 2000). Such a cultural milieu impacted Hispano leadership. 19

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Some local Hispanos became strictly internal leaders, utilizing lay positions within the Catholic Church or by attaining political and economic success within the local community. The secretive, mysterious Penitentes, rumored to recreate crucifixions at Easter time back in the hills, were Catholic lay leaders who replaced priests due to shortages in rural areas (Nostrand, 1992). The Valley town of Antonito had the first chapter of the Sociedad Protetcian Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (S.P.M.D.T.U.), a Hispano organization, best described as a combination of Catholic and labor movement influences with a rural overlay. However, Anglo-American dominance created an obvious barrier that allowed internal Hispanic leadership to flourish, but forced degrees of accommodation upon those who could lead Hispano culture within the southwestern United States. Some became intermediary leaders with strong contacts within the Anglo community, while others, external leaders, either confronted Anglo dominance or accommodated it with parallel Hispanic organizations and adoption of American ways (Gutierrez, Parra, & Rios, 20

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1979; Martinez, 1999). A confrontational leader, Reyes Tijerina, raided a county courthouse just south of the Valley in 1967, demanding a return of land to Hispanics, allegedly stolen from them in 1848. In contrast, enough accommodation apparently took place for the United States to finally grant statehood to New Mexico in 1912, thus giving Hispanos nominally more access to the political process. The Valley has had local leaders from the same molds. Frank "Kiko" Martinez, an external leader, was finally cleared of allegations of illegal and radical activity from the 1970s. Also a recent lawsuit brought by three Valley Hispanic citizens forced reapportionment on the Colorado House of Representatives to guarantee a Hispanic voting majority for a seat representing the Valley. On the other hand, Ken Salazar of Manassa, elected as Colorado's Attorney General in 1998, became the Hispanic to ever assume statewide office. Carlos Lucero, raised in Antonito, is now a sitting federal district judge. 21

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Julian Samora (1953) actually wrote a dissertation in the early 1950s about Hispanic leadership in the San Luis Valley. He did not write of internal versus external leaders, but he did find a lack of unity among Valley Hispanics. He attributed it to resentment towards those who moved ahead, distrust among the "Spanish" themselves, apathy, and individualism. Martinez (1999), who studied current Colorado Hispanic leaders, pointed out that the delineation of internal, intermediary, and external Hispanic leadership (Garcia & de la Garcia, 1977) is now blending, and the leaders he researched, including some with Valley backgrounds, had experienced all three types within their lifetimes. Numerous Hispanic in the Valley have utilized traditional pathways such as the Catholic Church, political office within Hispanic majority towns, and self-employed economic endeavors. Others follow professional routes connected to the Anglo culture, such as doctors and educators. In most cases, higher education became a political asset for these leaders (Garcia & de la Garcia, 1977) and a means 22

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to hone their leadership skills and behavior (Martinez, 1999) Home or the Other Side of the Mountains Another dynamic exists: community survival. If a small town cannot retain its younger generations or attract enough newcomers, it may very well die a long, lingering death over a few generations. And, indeed, community concern is well founded. Gibbs (1998) remarked, "For many rural places, the loss of young adults who attend college is the primary agent of human capital change" (p. 61). In an earlier study he noted a 35 percent loss of young people to urban areas, though a bit ameliorated by some urban people then moving in (Gibbs, 1995). Trainor (1993) found that rural "Marshall County" needed to socially reproduce itself, while Hedlund & Vollmer (1994) noted that rural high school seniors they studied overwhelmingly desired exposure to other, preferably urban, cultures. Haas. (1992) added that conditions in the community interact with students' imaginations as they realize their aspirations. 23

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Small town residents anywhere become fearful with the loss of the last new car dealership, or a J.C. Penney store, followed by a battle over consolidation of the local school that, until then, has been concrete evidence of belief in future generations. Shively (1993) poignantly related about Vernon, Colorado, that. lost its school: Many families in the Vernon area found themselves in Wray attending many school functions involving their children. While attending the school functions it became more convenient to do more of their shopping, further reducing the amount of business being conducted in the stores of Vernon. After a few years all the businesses in Vernon closed for a lack of customers. (p. 24) To foster a future, a parochial experience for a small community's young may indeed be an imperative for community survivability (Peshkin, 1978) The lure of country values (Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Kay, 1982; Robertson & Robertson, 1978), and the powerful pull of the surrounding natural environment (Donaldson, 1976; Donaldson, 1986; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Overton & Reese, 1977) form a backdrop for youthful aspirations. And rural youth must, at least, take into account loyalty to a community that has invested its viability in them. 24

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Many would stay if they could. Armstrong (1993) found in a study of 5600 rural high school students in 114 schools that almost three-fourths considered their community a good place to raise children, and they felt close to friends and family. Yet within rural culture, "rural youth have fewer role models in high status occupations and that expectations of classmates and others are not as likely to direct rural youth towards college" (Lowe & Pinhoy, 1980, p. 328). Influences from rural cultures, rural poverty, and Hispanic families can lure a college graduate back to or to stay in her/his homeland. For others, though, economic temptations or a desire to adopt a new culture, can keep them on the other side of the mountain. Although the research sample for this study came from those who stayed, many rural young people, especially young women, have been moving to urban areas, beginning with the immediate post war era of the 1940s and 1950s (Hansen, 1970; Patterson, 1996) and continuing into the late twentieth century (Culter & Edmondson, 1989; Donaldson, 1986; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Hull, 25

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1994). Hull (1994) elaborated by remarking on the educational perspective: The Rural Dilemma is well documented. Attain a high level of education and you must leave rural areas to acquire employment commensurate with the educational preparation. Stay in the rural area and economic opportunities will be limited regardless of educational attainment. Move to the city with low levels of education and you will enjoy low skill/low pay employment as a member of a larger, more densely populated group. (p. 1) Hull (1994) added, "staying in their community may limit their access to postsecondary education, training, and employment. On the other hand, leaving may mean cutting themselves off from their support system and the security of their home town (p. 2) ." Tough choices come early on for ambitious, rural, young people. When a person resides and makes a living in an urban area, the metropolitan area can be absorbing, a place wide enough that the surrounding countryside becomes invisible. "Out there" is just an automobile drive away, though throughout the city are parks, sometimes large, that give a taste of the natural environs. The wider geography usually registers in day-to-day consciousness only when planning a trip out of the city, or when one 26

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has a strong desire to escape the parameters of urban lifestyle. A city can seem more like a continent, not an island. In contrast, small Rocky Mountain towns feel like living on an island. Surrounding the square mile or less of the town, one can easily see the unpopulated countryside or even walk to it. The environment has certain limits such as amount of economic activity, how many people live there, availability of needed items, and its size. Underneath the community spirit and cooperative relationships is a kind of fragility, and a not much talked about realization that a small town can die quickly, reclaimed by the surrounding countryside. Barring a cataclysm, a city will not cease to exist. In a smaller town, an individual behaves a bit differently, in ways one does not expect, echoing what Barker (1978) stated, "that behavior and environment are inexorably continuous in time, that they are relentlessly ongoing from sunrise to sunrise with no gaps whatsoever (p. 3) ." Poet, Aaron Abeyta stated the feeling more lyrically in his poem entitled Antonito: 27

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here at the edge of the llano where the grass begins like a .migrant pulse thumping in the wind every april the town becomes somebody's prayer waiting for a candle to be lit there are places to begin (Abeyta, 2001, p. 5) Peshkin (1978), in a qualitative study of "Mansfield" in rural Illinois, writes of the rural experience a bit differently: The high proportion of Mansfield High School graduates who live in Mansfield and environs result from a socializing experience that leaves many of Mansfield's youth with neither the competency nor the will to live just anywhere. Rather, their parochial experience serves to maintain the community's stability and continuity. (p. 87) Lifelong residency also brings added influence and understanding within the community (Peshkin, 1978) Although this may be true, there can be a price. "Traditionally the small town has resisted change by passive means. Either it had little of value to interest bringers of change, or it simply subdued-by absorbing-those few upstarts who would have things a different way" (Robertson & Robertson, 1978) And that can exacerbate its young people's rural dilemma. 28

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Hedlund & Vollmer (1994) studied rural high school seniors torn between fear of leaving the community and a desire to transcend their country label and a desire to experience another culture. They feared college as big and impersonal. Rural youth tend to identify with nature and the renewing qualities of close contact with the outdoors (Donaldson, 1976; Donaldson, 1986; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Overton & Reese, 1977), yet they can view their rural community as uncultured and prejudiced (Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994). Still, though, they appreciate their "country values." A majority of subjects in Armstrong's study, 71%, believed their communities good places to raise children, but 80% thought there was not much to do. Many planned to leave due to job opportunities (1993) Do certain types of rural young person who tends to stay within her/his community? Donaldson (1976) asked the same question in his dissertation. He did a qualitative study in one Maine community, "Sawyer," of 46 nonmigrating young adults and conceptualized three types of "natives," his term for those who solved their "rural 29

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dilemma" by staying in their hometown. His subjects, by and large, did not obtain college degrees, nor did they represent any particular socio-economic group. He eventually conceptualized three types as "traditional," "modern-achieving," and "questioning." The traditional chose to stay in Sawyer and tie her/his lifestyle, occupation, and aspirations to Sawyer the way it was at the time of the study. As about half the sample, they "appear locked into the time-proven Sawyer rituals of becoming adult. They operate in a small and very familiar world, delimited by the geographic boundaries of Sawyer and revolving around family life-long social and cultural ties" (Donaldson, 1986, p. 124). "The fulfillment this kind of adulthood offers is less a personal fulfillment than a contextual one: fitting into the ascribed roles and feeling oneself assume the importance of the adult within Sawyer is the end in itself" (Donaldson, 1976, p. 176). The modern-achieving, about 40%, "involves the pursuit of material goals that hold the promise of specific developmental goals; one's own job, one's 30

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college or travel experience, one's degree, one's modern home are both the ends and the means to a sense of competence, a feeling of importance, and the proof of one's membership in modern America" (Donaldson, 1986, p. 124). They tended to be more successful in school, and would not object to new development on the edge of town, or to expenditures on a computer lab in the elementary school (Donaldson, 1976) The smallest groups, the ten percent making up the questioners, "strive for the integration of what they have learned is good on the outside (a job skill or friendship, for example) and what they know is good within Sawyer (a stretch of riverfront threatened with development)" (Donaldson, 1986, p. 124). "These youth stood up for a variety of unorthodox views and life ways within Sawyer and, in the act of doing so, seemed to verify their vitality" (Donaldson, 1976, p. 188). The questioners have potential to bridge the differences between traditional and modern achieving, and even contrasts or clashes that some rural communities 31

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experience with lifetime natives versus urban/suburban refugees. Donaldson's study (1976) provides a conceptual perspective for individuals' choices to stay in the San Luis Valley. However, these three varieties of native nonmigrators existed in an ethnically homogeneous (Anglo) community in central Maine, and questions arise as to whether those types apply to the Valley. Do those three types exist in multicultural communities of the San Luis Valley? And what effect does poverty or its absence have on those who choose to stay? Further, does gaining a college degree occur more among one type or another, or even change an individual from say traditional to questioning? Effective citizenship within the circumstance of community or ethnic group is necessary for-later leadership in the Valley or beyond its horizons. The subjects for this study, though, experienced the culture and citizenship of poverty, influences that may cast a certain perspective on later choices. Poverty, for them, could have been an inhibitor or an incentive to change. 32

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CHAPTER 3 RURAL POVERTY Hispanic leaders in the San Luis Valley are certainly cognizant of economically poorer fellow Hispanics. In most Valley towns populated by poorer Hispanics sagging row houses remain on some blocks, or within the countryside, windswept trailers and small houses dot the horizon with an unknown number of residents inside. Nationwide about 30.6 percent of rural Hispanics live at the poverty level, a slightly higher rate than metropolitan Hispanics. The national rural poverty percentage is 15.6, with 16.5 in the West, which reflects a recent decline in the 1990s. However, 26.3 percent of rural households are just above the poverty line compared to 18.2 percent in urban areas (Nord, 1997). Behind the statistics, rural poverty is different than its urban counterpart. Poorer folks in the littler towns live side by side with wealthier neighbors, and in larger towns the more impoverished sections are only a 33

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few blocks from well-to-do neighborhoods. Unlike urban locales, the poor are not easily relegated to an unseen area. Although rural areas are by no means purely egalitarian, the rural poor share a different kind of citizenship, with a privilege of not being anonymous in one's community. Their children attend the town's public school, the center of culture and entertainment" for the vicinity (Peshkin, 1978; Shively, 1993). They can talk at the laundromat and spread a bit of gossip about local leaders they actually know. With little public transportation, they have to own a vehicle, all too often an older car or truck that's difficult to maintain in the Valley's harsh climate. Their extended family probably lives nearby (Huang & Howley, 1991; Lichter, Cornwall, & Eggbeen, 1993), helpful in pooling resources within a low paying economy. In the Valley, many poorer citizens do seasonal work. The potato harvest in fall or summer employment from the U.S. Forest Service can tide a family over into winter, when public assistance payments may take up the slack. Others do not appear to be in 34

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poverty, as they may own their own farm and land, but still have difficulty financing basic needs. Janet Fitchen (1995) described in several ways Donaldson's traditional types (1976 & 1986) from her research of the rural poor. In her fascinating case study of the rural poor in a small poverty stricken hamlet in the Northeast, she examined generational and community history, and her subjects' direct quotes and Fitchen's conclusions show how deeply her research touched on individual lives. Our eyes are set a little above what we have now, but not as high as what we would like ideally. We aim for something a little better than what we have, but not that much better. Then, if we can't achieve our hopes, it's not a great disappointment. You have to learn to try for a happy medium. (p. 193) Such a seemingly straightforward statement summarizes a realistic hedging of bets and limited investment that rural families in poverty make for their futures. Fitchen found that parents' greatest desire was for their children to have a better life, but promotion to a higher socioeconomic group meant increased risk of failure. Poverty and rurality combined to increase social isolation wherein, "a real deterrent to participating in 35

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socially mixed groups in the larger community is the fear of unknown situations where social cues might be misread and responded to inappropriately" (p. 178). As a result, the home became a haven, a safe retreat. A child could stay there with the psychological strength of "us" and the "outside world." Fitchen added: This closing in of horizons (role models) is both a curse and salvation for young adults. The knowledge that they can always retreat to the safety of home, accepting the limited horizons of the rural, depressed neighborhood, probably has the negative effect of reducing the effort some of them put into making it in the outside world. On the other hand, unless and until the outside world becomes more accessible, the home neighborhood -as both a physical and socio-economic niche -is an essential haven for the preservation of self. Thus, horizons close, and limits may come to feel welcome, rather than constraining. (p. 200) The economic opportunities on the other side of the mountain may not be enough to lure a non-degree working poor Valley resident; the family home offers a means of getting by. An individual seeking a college degree and pursuing economic ambition is making a scary leap of faith. In the closing scene of "The Migrants", a play by Tennessee Williams, the mother character within a poor family that 36

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followed the crop harvests northward, literally pushes her son out the door to make him follow a dream. He had fallen in love with a young woman in town, patched together an old car, and dreamed of moving to Cincinnati to start a new life with his girlfriend. His mother forced the issue, making him leave the essential haven (Conners & Craddock, 1998). An underlying pair of questions for this research includes: can a college degree bring a liberating influence, and does the ambitious family member have an overwhelming desire to overcome obstacles towards a degree, or is "getting by" a reasonable price for easy familiarity with the local community? Hispanic Families Another influence to consider regarding Valley rural culture would be the Hispanic family. Earlier research appears to emphasize the differences Hispanic families have with the dominant Anglo-American culture rather than inherent strengths or weaknesses that Hispanic families may have. Carter (1970) also emphasized cultural 37

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differences describing early "macho" tendencies of boys that may lead to dropping out from high school. Certainly cultural differences exist between the minority Hispanics and the majority Anglos, but one can only speculate as to how that influences a tendency for Valley Hispanics to stay in their homeland or not. Marin & Marin (1991) have written of tendencies within Hispanic families that may indeed influence decisions to stay close to home with or without a degree. They note the strong attachment many Hispanics have to their extended families with perceived obligations to provide material and emotional support. There is considerable reliance on relatives, who also function as behavioral and attitudinal referents. Family relationships tend to be nurturing with an emphasis on smooth and pleasant social interaction and an avoidance of confrontation. Possibly that family safety net correlates with Hispanics having the lowest rate per thousand of placement in foster homes compared to any other group earlier in the 1990s (Hayes-Bantista, 1996) Hispanic families exert a strong influence (Brown, 38

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Dornbusch, & 1992; Gandara, 1982), and that may, in turn, alter an individual's decision to stay in one's hometown or home valley. As mentioned earlier, San Luis Valley Hispanics by and large come from a culture predating the United States, and do not find themselves as recent immigrants or as being uprooted from their ancestral homeland like Cuban-American, Puerto RicoAmerican, or Mexican-American populations have. A combination of poverty-stricken home havens (Fitchen, 1995) and strong Hispanic family influence, especially from a long established regional culture, may create traditional nonmigrators (Donaldson, 1976) On the other hand, a B. A. and taste of material success may stimulate individuals towards a modern achieving life style. In much the same way, a degree can raise questions and bring new perspective on one's home culture. Or their decisions to stay might be for other reasons, and acquiring a college degree may accentuate or aggravate that decision process. A completely new type of nonmigrator/leader prevalent in multicultural, rural, 39

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poverty environments may exist, in contrast to Donaldson's (1976, 1986) findings. Poverty and Near Poverty This study concentrates specifically on San Luis Valley Hispanics who grew up economically poor or near poor. Their families fluctuated between earning adequate blue-collar wages or even middle class to almost no income at all (Duncan, 1992). However, limited economic success, did not lead to a sustained stability, characterized by adequate savings or property. These Hispanics remained one paycheck away from near destitution. A more generic description of the poor comes from the U.S. Department of Labor (A Profile of the Working Poor, 1996} That report identifies those individuals who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force, but whose income fell below the official poverty threshold as being "working poor." About 4.1 million families, many headed by unmarried women, met that definition in 1995. Threefourths of the working poor are Anglos, but African40

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American and Hispanic workers had twice the rate of poverty than Anglos (A Profile of the Working Poor, 1996) Rural Hispanics appear to have more chance of living in poverty due to higher poverty rates among U.S. Hispanics in general (De La Rosa, 2000) and the lower wage scale that exists in rural areas anyway. Other indicators of poverty status for this study included: children on Federal free lunch at school, family utilization of food stamps, one or both parents being employed most of the time, sporadic welfare payments, home ownership or steady rental history, and vehicle ownership. However, because over time families can fluctuate from near destitution to working class, self-reporting from the subjects of this study was essential. What the subjects "see" in hindsight as to their socio-economic status while growing up is well within the selected research tradition (Moustakas, 1994). Hindsight can provide a sort of leveling in the subject's perception for the twenty years or so of growing up, and he or she should be able to characterize the family's status. The 41

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subjects utilized local referents, comparing themselves to neighbors who seemed economically better or worse off or by characterizing the entire community's relative wealth. Living in the Valley, I have heard many describe certain towns as poor, even when they are in close proximity to allegedly wealthier communities. And lurking behind individual circumstances is the general perception most residents have that the entire Valley is economically depressed. Do Hispanic leaders and later successful citizens emerge from the working poor in the San Luis Valley? Definitely some do, and this research traces their pathway towards a college degree, followed by successful citizenship staying within their Valley community. They are amidst the Valley's rural culture, where Hispano families and pervasive poverty all exist in a unique mountain realm in southern colorado. Regardless of background, the future of this special place rests with its young and ambitious, with its leaders and doers, and their abilities to realize their goals and give back to 42

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their homeland. It can begin with attaining a college degree. 43

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CHAPTER 4 THE ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION Aspirations The quest for a college degree begins with initial aspirations. In a general sense aspirations are, "what drive individuals to do more and be more than they presently are. We may know what we are, but we cannot know for certain what we can be" (Cobb, Mcintire, & Pratt, 1989, p. 12). Aspirations for college may begin from early childhood within many families, later in others, and for many individuals the family may even discourage college attendance, and the desire for a degree comes from other external influences. For some the aspiration may have even started as a lark or youthful experiment, only later taking on meaning. Some researchers have created conceptual models for educational aspirations using an investment metaphor (Sherwood, 1989) or by identifying stages in a decision model (Hossler & Stage, 1989; Hossler & Stage, 1992; 44

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Young & Reyes, 1987). No matter how the seed of college aspiration sprang forth, either in a linear fashion or as a segment of a holistic life outlook, influences of one kind or another fertilized it. For rural youth, their college aspirations germinate within the soil of rural culture. Rural schools are the cultural and social center of small towns. They provide a cultural blending and reinforcement of local values (Armstrong, 1993; Edington, 1976; Hutto, 1989; Peshkin, 1978), and community characteristics impact school educational services (Debertin, 1977). Thirty years ago, Cosby & Picou (1979) utilized a large sample (1052) of rural youth to do a longitudinal study from high school sophomore year to four years after high school. They reported that career preferences developed in high school strongly affected later educational attainment. Smaller high schools. do offer more leadership and membership opportunities, even for the marginal student (Baird, 1969; Green & Stevens, 1988; Gump, 1978; Horn, 1990; Knisley, 1992; Willems, 1967). Knisley (1992) noted that rural youth from 45

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poverty backgrounds who had these leadership/membership experiences tended to aspire to college. Nelson (1973) also found that rural high school extra curricular experiences led to higher expectations, creating a phenomenon of "pressing" students to more participation and identification with the school system's formal goals. That identification could also inhibit non-conforming behavior somewhat (Green & Stevens, 1988). Another aspect of small, rural schools is a tendency for school personnel to identify more with their students than in larger schools (Charles, 1969; Edington, 1976), possibly because teachers live in the same small community too. In addition, "community standards are definitely understood by the teachers" (p. 9), at least in the nine small Colorado districts that Cousins (1984) studied. With considerable student participation in rural high schools, teachers who understand local values, and schools being community social and cultural centers, the rural high school usually becomes an accurate mirror of 46

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the nearby cultural context. Theobald & Nachtigal (1995) articulated this idea well: Focusing on place, using the community as curricular lens, not only contributes to recreating community, but it will also help realize true school renewalfirst by making learning more experiential and therefore more powerful, and second, by providing youths with an ability to understand their community and its environs-its social structure, its economy, its history, its music, its ecology -the more they become in that community. (p. 134) Bosworth (2002) added an additional element. Among rural high school student leaders, she found that the "everyone knows everyone" aspect to small high schools correlated with service to the community, so much so, that she described it as intrinsic. Trainor (1993) studied two rural Pennsylvania counties with very different college attendance rates. 11Gifford County11 had the legacy of a former big company and middle class economy that had created get ahead expectations in the community. More of their young people went away to college, their decisions based primarily on economic criteria and values. In contrast, 11Marshall County11 had a culture stressing close-knit family ties and a more diversified economy. College 47

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attendance and the possible resulting out migration established a threat in a number of families, especially if several generations had lived there. Trainor (1993) concluded that, "families do not necessarily reach education deqisions unilaterally. Rather, their decisions reflect the cultural norms of their communities ... norms which individuals and families help to create and norms which ultimately help to shape the behaviors of these very same individuals" (p. 212). One advantage within the Valley is Adams State College (A.S.C.), a four-year state college located in Alamosa, which admits 97% of Hispanics who apply. The six-year graduation for Hispanics there is 38% (Lerner & Nagai, 1997) Though difficult to quantify, rural culture and its public schools influence rural youth aspirations for college. Rural youth grow up with community values and expectations, and they generally observe first hand the occupations associated with rural economies, not ones more exclusive to urban areas. Their community makes an investment in them that could either indicate an insecure 48

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sense of survival or giving permission to leave for better economic opportunity. Each small town is different, occasionally homogeneous in customs, religious beliefs, and ethnicity. And the community high school is a microcosm of local pride and shame, of conflicts and consensus, and of community activity or nothing much to do. Nevertheless, rural culture resonates into youthful futures and aspirations. Although the rural context affects youthful college aspirations, the individual's family has a more profound effect. A family's socio-economic status, the parents' educational expectations, parental educational attainment, all reverberate through adolescent postsecondary decision-making. Rural or not, parental expectations are one of the strongest influences on college aspirations (Conklin & Dailey, 1981; Davies & Kandel, 1981; Hossler & Stage, 1989; Lowe & Pinhoy, 1980). Conklin & Dailey (1981) mentioned that if at any point in high school, a child does not perceive that parents assume he or she is going to college, then that, "substantially lowers the 49

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probability of attending a four-year college" (p. 262). As for rural parents, Elliot (1987) dolefully stated, "several teachers expressed their frustration of not being able to influence these students' decisions. Instead, the greatest influence carne from parents and friends equally unfamiliar and fearful of the world beyond their own rural communities" (p. 5). Negative indirect effects of rural culture obviously exist in that analysis too. Lowe & Pinhoy (1980) and Cobb et al. (1989) also found some ratcheting down influence of rural parental expectations. Parental expectations, however, do not come just from rurality. Hossler & Stage (1989) found that the level of parental education had a positive effect on the "predisposition" stage towards college aspirations with the father's educational attainment having more influence on both genders. Yang (1981) sampled 1714 rural youth and echoed the father's educational level on aspiration, but discovered that the mother's educational level had more to do with actual college attendance. Indeed, so

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evidence exists that mothers exert influence in other ways. Four separate studies (Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Del Castillo, Frederickson, McKenna,. & Ortiz, 1988; Gandara, 1995; Watt, 1987) found strong maternal influence among Hispanic women successful at the post secondary level. Among minority families, recent survey research from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education found 65 percent of Hispanic parents consider college education the most important element for success. In contrast only 35 percent of the general public feel that way (Levinson, 2000) Adding poverty to the family mix further changes family influence. Davies & Kandel (1981) stated that socioeconomic status is the strongest determinant for parental educational expectations.. Brant linger's ( 1985) qualitative study found only nine percent of parents in poverty desired their children's college education, but that different classes within the lower socioeconomic range had different "floors" for higher status. For example, some parents believed that a secretarial 51

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position represented higher status, due to the skills involved with it, despite it not being a high wage occupation. Garcia (2001) encapsulated the economic dilemmas facing an aspiring student raised in poverty. After recounting how is mother and aunts viewed a high school diploma as a "culminating event," he wrote: Graduating from high school was a good thing to have done. But now the real world of work should be a priority. My mother was concerned that I was considering going to the local community college on a baseball scholarship. I recall very clearly that she understood this opportunity as one related to continuing my "playing" as opposed to continuing my education while at the same time avoiding work. (p. 193) He went on to mention that within a family with few resources, being gainfully employed has the highest priority, even at the expense of higher education. Another phenomenon present within some families in poverty is to prod the smartest child or the one who appears to have the most potential (Brantlinger, 1985; Fitchen, 1995) To families in poverty with limited resources, an 11all the eggs in one basket" way of thinking may logically make sense. 52

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Fitchen's study (1995) on rural poor reported in Chapter 3 summarizes several issues for those who may aspire to college. Self-esteem, socialization in different places, loyalty to home and community, risk taking, and parental expectations with mixed messages all bear on educational aspirations. Fitchen mentioned only one boy with any aspirations to college, and, not surprisingly, he felt he could achieve it but was not sure if he should. College attendance aspiration begins a higher education quest akin to running a marathon for those individuals who decide to try. But although each marathon is one of individual choice and decisions through the racecourse, one's performance or even completion can be affected by temperature, humidity, vicissitudes of the route, and what other runners do. So, too, does a young adult from a rural and poverty background weave a way through the influences of rural culture, family, high school experience, and socioeconomic standing. On the route, he or she has to 53

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gain resilience to turn aspirations into tangible dreams and, ultimately, a college degree. Resilience Resilience is the ability to recoil from pressure or shock, essentially undamaged (Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary, 1984). Resilience maintains individuals through day-to-day decisions and temporary setbacks. A strong aspiration can sustain much of an individual's resiliency, and, therefore, several influences from college aspirations continue to bolster young adults towards a baccalaureate. However, new curves arise, such as marriage or family commitments, financial strains, and cultural uneasiness for minorities and the poor. A transition from merely talking of college attendance to doing something about it occurs when one is accepted to a four-year institution. Being in a college preparation curriculum in high school certainly helps minorities and the poor to get in (Alva, 1991; Astin, 1982; Ballesteros, 1986; Gandara, 1995; Romo & Falbo, 1996) Others have had mentors to show aspiring non-54

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middle class individuals a road map into college (Gandara, 1995; Villanueva, 1996). Despite these positive factors, though, the following vignette brings out other, more insidious factors that can derail an ambitious young Hispanic woman. The high school counselor, her assigned "mentor," actually lowered expectations, and her description implies an institutional bias towards her success. Fortunately, her anger led her to a profound shift in her own expectations, which strengthened her resilience: I went to a counselor one day, because it was for minorities, a pre-college, type, information thing, and a bunch of us went. And the counselor, who I hate, he said," Well, here is a state school, and here is a couple of community colleges." And he's like, "Here's a couple of applications." And I was like, "I don't want to go there; those are bad schools, I don't want to go there." And he's like, "Well, this is as good as you're going to get. You're not gonna get any better than this. They're offering you a two thousand dollar scholarship ... This is as good as you're gonna get." And I'm like, "I don't think so." So I went and I got one of those college books (I actually stole it), and they had little paragraphs on each college and they rated them "highly competitive," "most competitive," "least competitive." So I went through and circled all the most competitive ones. I had no idea what they were, where they were. I had never seen a college campus. Nothing. So I circled all those and I applied to all of them. Just to spite him. So then when I got in, I 55

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photocopied all the acceptance letters and taped them on every teachers' door. And I said, "Don't you ever tell me I'm not going. Don't ever tell me that I'm not going anywhere." (Arellano & Padilla, 1996, p. 496) Sheer will power for this individual bridged several barriers that cripple so many others. For one, many Hispanics go to two-year institutions but then do not use them as stepping-stones to B.A.s (Astin, 1982; Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Chacon, Coheh & Strover, 1986; Del Castillo et. al., 1988; Garcia, 2001). For another, financial sacrifice is such that many low-income or minorities have to settle for "as good as it gets", especially with promise of financial aid or scholarship (Mortenson & Wu, 1990; Munoz, 1986). Also, this individual went after even a bigger dream, acceptance into a prestigious institution, motivated some by spite and anger. As Dickman and Stanford-Blair (2002) aptly stated, "Emotional processing of information from stimulus to action is infinitely more efficient than cognitive processing of information from stimulus to action"(p. 67). Many settle for just being accepted. Getting invited to the dance becomes good enough, and how 56

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many high school guidance counselors, parents, or minority, poor individuals settle for just the invitation? And how many almost stumble into success, as this one, who found her own personal cause propelling her past undermining messages? She demonstrated more than mere resilience; she had an armor of invulnerability. What other personal qualities, besides will power, do poor and minority young adults need for resilience in attaining a college degree? In an empirical study from the 1970s, Astin (1982) identified level of parental education, college prep curriculum, living on campus without an outside job, and high school grade point average as predictors of college success for minorities. Bender & Ruiz (1974) added belief in one's ability to control one's environment as another factor. Astin & Burciaga (1981) noted the importance of writing skills, a quality no doubt still needed today. Among more recent studies Alva (1991) pointed to the advantage of first generational status for MexicanAmericans and a language background utilizing English. 57

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While finding many family influences for highly educated Hispanics, Gandara (1995) related the importance of a very hard work ethic for the individuals and the parents that modeled that to them. Possibly from that hard work came a sincere belief in being able to do well in school (locus of control) Believing in one's abilities is not innate; an enculturation process, though, can provide a road map for Hispanic undergraduates through the maze of institutional and societal expectations within the college experience. Richard Rodriguez (1981), in his best selling autobiography, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez mentioned the head start he had from growing up in an Anglo neighborhood. His immigrant parents made their children speak English, despite their own unfamiliarity with it. Gandara (1995) described the enculturation that economically poor Hispanics face upon entering college: In poverty cultures, maladaptive responses to schooling are transmitted through the generations by parents who were themselves ill-suited to school, did poorly, and failed to learn the skills necessary to propel themselves or their progeny through the educational system. Conversely the sons and 58

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daughters of the middle class are raised to believe that schools are supposed to serve their needs. This sense of entitlement serves them well in shaping the institution of school into their own image. (p. 26} Gandara (1995} further mentioned that middle class families know the schools' "hidden curriculum" and coach their offspring accordingly. In a recent article, O'Brien and Zudak (1998) identified risk factors for Hispanics in postsecondary education. Delayed enrollment, part time attendance, single parent status, working full time, caring for a dependent, and having a GED in lieu of a diploma were risk factors they mentioned. Twenty-seven percent of Hispanic students had four or more of these factors, while nineteen percent had none of the risk factors. Back in the politically incorrect days of the 1960s, Fogel's (1966} empirical study indicated that Hispanic physical resemblance to Anglos gave them greater economic potential compared to other minorities. Matching educational achievement needed to take place first, followed by income attainment. But within the reality of college achievement, resemblance is not enough. Alva 59

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(1991)' Alva & Padilla (1995), Arellano & Padilla (1996), Attinasi (1989), Carter (1970), Chavez (1986), DelgadoGaitan (1992), Hoffer (1988), Romo & Falbo (1996), and Sewell & Shah (1967) all made reference to the need for some degree of enculturation for Hispanics to be successful educationally. Attinasi (1989} mentioned "anticipatory socialization" that nudges individuals towards college and that Hispanic freshmen must have cognitive maps of the physical, social, and academic geographies. Chavez (1986) commented that too narrow a definition of Hispanic culture by either the individual or the larger society leaves the individual little room to choose and expand within a new environment. In the area of high school completion, Hoffer (1988) noted that participation in extra curricular activities aids enculturation and reduces the chances of dropping out. Taking the peer enculturation idea a bit further, Gandara (1995) noticed that the successful female Hispanic graduates she studied frequently had maintained two sets of friends: one from their birth culture and one from their college culture. And Romo & Falbo (1996} pointed 60

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out that more jockish cliques tended to be more ethnically mixed, which could accentuate assimilation. Enculturation, family influences, the work ethic, goal setting, and will power all influence resilience. A combination of those factors with individual circumstances can power or hinder an undergraduate's resolve to attain a baccalaureate. But, in order to stay in college an individual must still meet the university's minimum standards, or, in other words, achieve. Achievement Aspirations and resilience can influence educational achievement, as well as family, social class, high school climate, and academic background. The tenacity and dreams described above need an academic foundation to realize accomplishment in higher education. Not surprisingly, participation in a college prep curriculum in high school becomes almost necessary for later accomplishment for students who are Hispanic, rural, poor, or any combination thereof (Alwin & Otto, 1977; Astin, 1982; Ballesteros, 1986; Gandara, 1995; 61

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Hoffer, 1988; Ramon, 1995; Romo & Falbo, 1996). Ballesteros (1986) and Romo & Falbo (1996) add that early ability tracking in elementary and secondary school has done a tremendous disservice to later opportunities in a college prep curriculum. Hoffer (1988) further highlighted a high school's curricular power by finding that attachment to the school is more related to success in academic task structure than location in the school's social constellation, while Alvin & Otto (1977) stated, "School contexts are most important in affecting a student's choice of peers and the type of curriculum to which he (she) has access" (P.268). High school grade point average can also be a good predictor of later success (Astin & Burciagia, 1981) For Hispanics an "integrated" high school experience can affect achievement, and, logically, could influence the enculturation aspect to resilience. On the other hand, a high school could narrow one's cultural outlook. Del Castillo et al. (1988) noted that schools that are fifty percent or more Anglo have a positive correlation with Hispanic achievement and 62

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Gandara's (199S) study of Hispanic women who achieved graduate degrees found most of her subjects attended schools at least half Anglo. Within the Valley, the larger high schools in Monte Vista, Alamosa, and La Jara tend to be SO-SO Anglo and Hispanic. Smaller high schools vary with some having large majority Hispanic enrollments. Donato (1999) conducted some fascinating education history research within the San Luis Valley. Through oral interviews, he traced an obvious pattern of segregation between Anglos and Hispanics within public life in Monte Vista from early in the twentieth century through the 19SOs. Del Norte had less segregation, but Hispanics had much less success within public schools during the same era due to retention practices and tracking. Neither school district had more than a handful of Hispanic teachers. Not so, though, in isolated and sparsely populated southern Costilla County, where the chief town is San Luis. There most teachers and administrators were Hispanic, and Hispanics never lost control of local government or the school board. 63

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With less than half the combined school-age population of Monte Vista, Del Norte, and Trinidad, little San Luis had almost twice as many Hispanics attending Adams State College in the late 1950s and early 1960s as those three larger districts. Donato (1999) stated, "With Hispano teachers and administrators serving as positive role models, many Hispanos were going on to college, graduating, and returning to the San Luis schools as teachers to renew this cycle of success" (p. 143). Integration and percentages of Anglos or Hispanics or any other minority group do not necessarily reflect social class, which also influences achievement. Mortensen & Wu (1990) found that the chances of someone from the bottom quartile of family income actually completing a degree decreased in the late 1980s compared to the two previous decades. A Hispanic in the bottom quartile had less chance, statistically, than an Anglo or African-American. In an empirical study, Bender & Ruiz (1974) discovered that social class membership rather than "racial group" was the critical factor in academic achievement and educational aspirations. On the other 64

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hand, Delgado-Gaitan (1992) stated that, "low socioeconomic conditions limited the parents' material resources, but did not detract from parental discipline, scheduling time for schoolwork and bedtime, and organizing their lives around a familiar routine (p. 512) ." And White (1982), in a meta-analysis, found that social class is a weaker correlation if the student and her/his family were the unit of analysis versus using an entire school or another aggregate group as the unit of analysis. Again, though, achievement is the result, and overcoming a permeating social class or poverty, takes place earlier. Some families just create better conditions for it than others. Family size and sibling birth order offer an interesting angle on later achievement. Zajonic (1976) found that siblings born earlier perform better on intelligence tests, possibly due to "teaching" opportunities with younger siblings. The youngest children or only children did not have those opportunities, which Gandara (1995) also noted because only 8% of her academically successful Hispanic female 65

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subjects were last born. And Zajonic (1976) also found that intellectual performance increases with decreasing family size. Although family size may influence later academic achievement, other elements within the family unit can also have an impact. Gandara (1995) asked rather specific questions about what was in the birth households of her academically successful Hispanic female subjects. At least half lived with one avid parent reader, and 98% reported having at least two of the following in the home: an encyclopedia, a dictionary, a daily newspaper, magazine subscriptions, and more than 25 books. Educational socialization succeeded better in MexicanAmerican homes that equated education with consideration of others, kindness, respect for elders and authority. Many verbal exchanges revolved around children's homework (Delgado-Gaitan, 1992) while parental involvement in schoolwork and a constant "stay in school" message appeared to affect later academic achievement (Romo & Falbo, 1996) Arellano & Padilla (1996) pointed out the importance of a success enabling perspective as being so 66

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important early in life, but they also made.mention of role models and mentors later on, as did Delgado-Gaitan (1992) regarding successful individual experiences within church, work groups, and extended families. Hispanic women, referred to as Chicanas by many researchers, have specific stressors towards academic achievement both within their families and after leaving the nest. Fewer successful women than men mention "mentor" relationships (Gandara, 1995), and many have more domestic responsibilities or a conflict with those family expectations (Chacon, Cohen, & Strover, 1986; Del Castillo et al., 1988; Munoz, 1986). Postponing marriage and children helped achievement, though, and Chicanas benefited more from maternal influence and support (Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Del Castillo et al., 1988; Gandara, 1982; Gandara, 1995). Among Hispanic undergraduates in general, more stressors appear to exist, but even more so for Chicanas (Olivas, 1986). Achievement blends with aspiration and resilience, and can be both a cause and an effect of both attitudes. And like the other two broad influences, its fruition 67

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comes from culture, family, schooling, and individual circumstances and choices. Aspirations, resilience, and achievement all create a wide sea of influences for college degree attainment. Within that, currents exist, some stronger than others, to move individuals closer to or further away from a baccalaureate. Circumstances such as rural culture, rural schools, family, ethnicity, socio-economic status and a specific environment can influence attitudes, ones that promote success or failure or somewhere in between. Attitudes from parents, individuals, and acculturating experiences lead to a work ethic and will power, necessary to later accomplishment. But do these currents swirl about in a high, isolated Colorado valley, and, if so, how? By the same token, do the Hispanic working poor of the San Luis Valley experience the same influences, or variations, and what influences are unique to a region of special beauty and cultural blending? And do these same influences play upon individual decisions to stay, to utilize a college degree for self, or family, or culture, and to make a difference? The answers come from San Luis 68

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Valley Hispanic working poor, who attain a baccalaureate. They may move with the same currents from the outside world, or they may follow their own flow. Their later decisions may lead back to extended families and a comfortable hometown, or they may journey to the bewitching glow of city lights over the pass and beyond. 69

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CHAPTER 5 THE RESEARCH PROBLEM AND METHODOLOGY College attendance and degree attainment is a common expectation in many American households. Increasingly, individuals who lack post secondary education find themselves economically in the margins of society with fewer choices and less income. However, not all socioeconomic groups benefit equally from opportunities for higher education in the United States. U.S. Hispanics attend and graduate from college in fewer numbers than Anglos or African-Americans (Aguirre & Martinez, 1993; Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Ballesteros, 1986; Carter & Wilson, 1994; Chacon, Strover, & Cohen, 1986; Del Castillo, Frederickson, McKenna, & Ortiz, 1988; Hernandez, 1997; Jaramillo, 1988; Mortenson & Wu, 1990; Olivas, 1986; Rosenthal, 1980; Vigil, 1988). Garcia (2001) mentioned that climbing K-12 Hispanic enrollment has not carried over to postsecondary participation and that just 8.9 percent of Hispanic high school graduates applied to the University of California in 1997-1998 70

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compared to 10.2 percent in 1989-1990. In contrast elsewhere though, minority higher education students have made recent gains, earning 18 percent of all bachelor's degrees given in 1995, up a percentage from 1994, and accounting for 22 percent of all four-year undergraduates in 1995, compared to 15.3 percent in 1986. Hispanic students increased by 5.3 percent in enrollment for 1996-1997, the most of any American minority group (Carter & Wilson, 1998). The most recent statistics (Wilds, 2000) point out Hispanics females as more likely to attend college than males, but Hispanic graduation rate in larger institutions remaining unchanged at forty-five percent since 1992. Hispanics continue to gravitate more toward two-year junior colleges. Despite these optimistic recent statistics, other factors work against degree attainment for working poor Hispanics of the San Luis Valley. Considerable evidence exists that rural youth generally have lower college aspirations than urban/suburban youth (Armstrong, 1993; Breen & Quaglia, 1991; Cobb, Mcintire, & Pratt, 1989; Fitchen, 1995; 71

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Gibbs, 1998; Haas, 1992; Lowe & Pinhoy, 1980; Marine, 1995; McCaul, 1989). One manifestation is that in 1996, only 9.7 percent of the rural workforce had a B.A., compared to 17.2 percent of urban workers (Ghelfi & McGranahan, 1998) On the other hand, mitigating circumstances may impact a correlation between rurality and lowered educational expectations. Haller & Virkler (1993) attributed lowered rural education aspirations to socio-economic circumstances and family dynamics, whereas Nelson (1973) contended that greater participation in extra-curricular activities among rural high school students tends to create more college aspiration. Adding to Haller & Virkler's (1993) contention are a number of empirical and qualitative studies tying poverty or lower socio-economic standing with less educational achievement and aspiration in K-12 education as well as college degree attainment (Bender & Ruiz, 1974; Brantlinger, 1992; Buriel & Saenz, 1980; Davies & Kandel, 1981; De La Rosa, 2000; Fitchen, 1995; Mortenson & Wu, 1990; Rist, 1970; Sewell & Shah, 1967; White, 1982). 72

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The extensive historical poverty within the San Luis Valley creates a need to study those who have grown up in it and climbed out of it. And the Valley counties with the highest proportion of Hispanic citizens, Conejos and Costila counties, also have the highest poverty rates (Colorado MapStats, 2001) Thus, San Luis Valley economically poor Hispanics who choose college attendance and a subsequent degree confront three currents: their ethnicity, their ru.ral i ty, and their poverty. Adding individual personal weaknesses, specific family circumstances, and unforeseen external events, those individuals who accomplish their college dreams seem quite extraordinary. They break the mold. That accomplished, .though, they may discover that the rural economy cannot always offer them economically sustaining employment, as these mold breakers face the "rural dilemma" of whether to stay or migrate (Hull, 1994) The recent in-migration of residents to nonmetropolitan areas, mentioned earlier, as well as occupations using technology close to home, can create 73

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( opportunities for nonmigrating rural residents. Should the trend continue, ambitious Valley youth possessing college degrees might more easily stay in their childhood communities sharing their talents and providing role models for younger, aspiring Valley citizens. The insidious rural dilemma of having to move to a city to fully utilize a hard won college degree, or to stay and live with less, may change or disappear. If, indeed, rural America, and the San Luis Valley in particular, is on the verge of reversing previous trends, with a new economic and/or cultural resurgence to anticipate, then its citizens need to know how some overcome odds to attain a college degree, and, then, how and why they succeed. The Valley Hispanic community benefits, and that, in turn, impacts the entire Valley. Those remarkable people, the subjects of this study, who have overcome possible negative educational impacts of rurality, ethnicity, and poverty, and then became successful citizens, have much to teach us. Knowing the elements and whys behind their success should not be kept a secret from the rest of the Valley. For these mold 74

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breakers can, in turn, create decisions and programming in the Valley and other rural environs to aid other residents and later generations. Some similar research exists. Knisley (1992) researched the aspirations of rural youth in poverty who planned to pursue college, but he did not follow them up to find out who realized their ambitions, .nor examine a particular ethnic group. Gandara (1982 & 1995) studied Hispanics from backgrounds of poverty that obtained advanced degrees, but most came from urban California. Hull (1994) remarked: Little research is available on the influence of the rural community on adult development and occupational success. The majority of research on youth life choices has been focused on urban settings .. As a result the urban focus ... has hindered understanding effects of rural schools and communities on the educational and occupational aspirations of rural youth. However increasing economic and social stresses in rural areas necessitate that attention be given to this population if small, rural communities are to survive. (p. 2) Knowing the experiences that a selected group of San Luis Valley working poor Hispanics had that led to a college degree and subsequent success, will provide knowledge and guideposts for others following a similar 75

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pathway. Although each individual studied in the project has had unique experiences and perceptions, what these experiences mean to them will enhance our understanding of this phenomenon. Deeper understanding of their experiences through detailed description and analysis can lead to applications for others who wish to attain a college degree, despite aspects of poverty, rurality, and ethnicity that may work against them. Research can lead to ways to maximize a positive phenomenon that some experience towards a more encompassing one for all. The Research Questions The purpose of this study is to describe the phenomenon of college degree attainment and subsequent leadership within the San Luis Valley for working poor Hispanics. The qualitative description concentrates on the meaning of the experience to the research participants, later leading to a description of the essence of the phenomenon. question: 76 The purpose creates a

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What meaningful experiences do poverty stricken Hispanics of the San Luis Valley describe that led to college degree attainment and later leadership within the Valley? Underlying the research question are several subquestions that guide the data analysis to quite an extent: What are the themes and contexts of this experience? Do structural meanings exist for this phenomenon, and, if so, what are they? What are the universal structures that precipitate feelings and thoughts about the experience? What are the invariant structural themes that facilitate a description of this experience? Which experiences appear to be the most motivating for San Luis Valley working poor Hispanics in attaining a college degree Which experiences appear to be most motivating towards later leadership for 77

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working poor Hispanics within the San Luis Valley? Methodology This study's data are from recorded interviews of successful, degreed, San Luis Valley Hispanics who grew up in working poor backgrounds. Selecting a qualitative approach allows for detailed exploration utilizing information shared by those closest to the phenomenon, the ones who experienced it. With suitable, thick description, it can uncover initial pathways to other perspectives to the phenomenon such as quantitative data, in depth studies of certain themes, or new interpretations of similar data. Creswell (1998) pointed out several bases in addition to my own. For starters, this research is an initial investigation about a specific group that does not answer questions comparing it to other groups. Qualitative research tends to answer questions of a "what" or "how" nature, as does the question of what meaningful experiences do degreed, working poor Valley 78

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Hispanics have while attaining a college degree and later becoming leaders. Uncovering what .experiences the subjects report can lead to new conceptual horizons, either unique to this study or generalizable in similar studies with other populations. That can back up later quantitative research exploring the "whys," checking for cause and effect and relationship variables that confirms or denies existing theory. The Valley needs to know "how" Hispanic working poor succeed educationally and as contributing citizens, before someone explores the "why" that may later lead to means of maximizing the phenomenon. In order to uncover the appropriate "whys," this study provides detailed description of data to rule in or rule out themes and patterns. The textural and structural description should lead the reader to empathy close to being right there with the study's subjects. As an analogy, when Zebulon Pike, the Valley's first Anglo explorer, wrote of his experiences there, he wrote only a narrative diary of events. In contrast, Lewis and Clark of a few years earlier returned with a rich description 79

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based on detailed recorded observation of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase. Their explorations had a lasting impact, and provided many questions for the "whys" to benefit from new American territory. And poor Zeb Pike just ended up getting captured by the Spanish. Thus, this research about a sociological and educational phenomenon utilizes the Lewis and Clark treatment, a detailed story and description of first hand experiences as reported by the participants. What to report and emphasize and how to analyze the extensive accounts then entail choosing among methodologies best suited for the phenomenon. Phenomenology Out of the various qualitative methodologies, I selected phenomenological research. This study describes a phenomenon from self-reported experiences, and what follow is a more detailed description of and justification for this qualitative method. Karl Marx and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel had a point. Their nineteenth century concept of pendulum 80

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swings in human outlooks applies very well to the twentyfirst century and the Information Age. Marx and Hegel created the "dialectic" conceived of as thesis, followed by an opposing viewpoint called the antithesis, which leads to a new viewpoint that blends thesis and antithesis into a synthesis. And then the cycle begins anew as the "synthesis" becomes a new thesis that leads to antithesis ad. infinitum (Durant, 1953; Frost, 1962). For example, the Old Testament conceives of an allpowerful God of Creation (thesis), while the New Testament gives humanity a God of forgiveness and unconditional love (antithesis) and modern Christianity takes elements from both concepts (synthesis) Meanwhile new antitheses in reaction to the Christian thesis arise all the time. As another instance, a proletariat democracy or mob rule (antithesis) arose from the ashes of the French monarchy in the late eighteenth century (thesis), which led to the Napoleonic regime, decidedly anti-royal, but with a degree of civil order (synthesis). Later European revolutions in 1830 and 1848 gave an antithesis to the Napoleonic idea. Within Western 81

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intellectual history, the Renaissance, a man centered phenomenon, was the antithesis to the God and Church centered life of the Mediaeval Age, but later on the Enlightenment synthesized human explanations for realms previously reserved for the Church. Physics would explain many aspects of Nature, while leaving some creation mysteries to faith. After various cycles of the dialectic since the eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment, also called the Age of Reason, manifests with the primacy of scientific explanations for considerable observed or theoretical phenomena at the close of the twentieth century. Now, most diseases have scientific explanations that, in many cases, lead to cures. Humans are able to quantify the heavens by counting the stars or even the galaxies, all within a scientific theory of the nature of the universe. Within the twentieth century, human behavior has had an objectified and quantified explanation called behaviorism based on a fairly simple idea of stimulus and response. But no "simple" explanation can account for the many expressions of 82

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human behavior, and, thus, the seeds for an antithesis to empiricism begin to germinate. The study of human beings, their activities, their motives, their experiences, or their inner selves does not lend itself easily to quantification or categories rigidly determined. Luckmann (1973) pointed out this ongoing dilemma in the social sciences. On the one hand is a tendency to reduce human beings to man-machines, vacated by "soul," and congruent to scientific laws of nature. On the other hand, some advocate that humans are completely removed from Nature with Nature being nothing but a measurable space-time manifold. "Social science" does not exist, only artistic and intuitive reconstructions of the unfolding of the mind. A dilemma framed in that manner begs for a synthesis. The philosophy of phenomenology and research methods that come from it provide one. The individual most associated with it, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), was a philosopher who began as a logician. Many consider him the father of "phenomenology," although Hegel wrote of it previously, and Martin Heidegger (1889-83

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1976) expanded its implications to modern existentialism. Philosophy is usually a thick and deep explanation of the nature of reality that does not lend itself to sound bytes. Nonetheless, Husserl's conception of reality moved away from the objectivity of empiricism to replace it with the primacy of human consciousness. To synthesize the social science dilemma mentioned above: Husserl distinguishes between the natural and phenomenological standpoint. The former is our ordinary everyday viewpoint and the ordinary stance of the natural sciences, describing things and states of affairs. The latter is the special viewpoint achieved by the phenomenologist, as he or she focuses not on things but our consciousness of things. (Solomon & Higgens, 1996, p. 251) Our consciousness of the thing is the reality of the object. Our subjectivity, coming from our consciousness, is as important as the objective measures and descriptors we apply to a thing physically outside ourselves. Take, for example, a tree-a cottonwood tree-by itself in the middle of a field. Various objective explanations of the tree exist that are part of our consciousness of it, such as what it consists of, its ability to reproduce itself, its recognizable shape as a tree, and the various reasons as to why it is a 84

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cottonwood tree and not another kind. Most mature humans also share these explanations as part of a common consciousness of what this thing is. Yet this particular tree has different knowledges swirling about it. One person may view its leaf changes each year as a sure sign of autumn. Another may have proposed to her/his future spouse underneath it. An artist may have a shimmering Impressionist memory of that same tree, while someone else sees it as a property line. Members of another culture may believe that the tree has a soul, part of a wider pantheistic conception of the world, though another group may view the tree as an obstacle to intensive and immediate horticulture. These different viewpoints about a tree point to different meanings for those experiencing the phenomenon of the tree. The search for the meaning of a conscious experience is one "reduction" that Husserl applies to understanding the phenomenon. Another is the "epoche" wherein the phenomenologist "brackets" all questions of truth and reality and simply describes the contents of consciousness (Solomon & Higgins, 1996). Heidegger, as 85

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an Existentialist, placed additional importance upon the meaning, searching for its "essence" leading towards a meaning for existence. Another aspect that a phenomenologist brings is knowledge of "a priori" structures that everyone has about things. Someone who believes that a tree has a soul or that it is a direct extension of God has an "a priori" structure in consciousness about that tree. A homosexual individual would have an "a priori" bias or desire towards someone of the same gender, as would a heterosexual towards the opposite gender. Those "a priori" structures guide "meaning" for individuals as, "meaning is inherent in perception" (Tiryakian, 1973, p. 195). What implications do these ideas have for qualitative research, specifically in the social sciences? For one, the phenomenological researcher is looking at how subjects experience the world through their a priori structures. The subjects' structures, as well as the researcher's, are data, not a source of error as the positivists would believe, nor an ideology to be unmasked as the Marxists believe (Tiryakian, 1973}. 86

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Swingewood (1991) reportd on Alfred Schutz's phenomenological research that advocated bracketing away all scientific presuppositions about the socio-historical world. Analysis and understanding of the world comes from the actions and consciousness of subjects who strive to construct and make sense of reality. Meaning is not waiting passively to be discovered but requires active construction, for both the subjects and the researcher. The researcher is examining how subjects accept the everyday world, their "natural attitude," as well as accounting for ways individuals define and reflect upon their specific situations or action. The phenomenologist changes the definition of data. He or she proposes that raw social science data is not discarded, using a purifying instrument as an empiricist might do (Luckmann, 1973). The researcher utilizes the intersubjective commonalities of the world, which has conforming meaning through language, rules, roles and statuses (Swingewood, 1991) He or she also realizes that phenomena are immediately given states of affairs rather than empirical posits (Natanson, 1973) because 87

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phenomenology does not recognize a subject-object dichotomy (Stewart & Mickunas, 1974). The investigator deals with phenomena in both descriptive and analytical ways with the description being thick as a perquisite for adequate analysis. Natanson (1973) highlights its antithesis to the natural sciences as: The price paid for accepting the logic of the natural sciences as unquestionably the proper instrument for the study of man is the avoidance of the richness of everyday life, its wealth of subtly structured typifications, its remarkable prepredictive organization, and its history of sedimented meanings which brings to the present the intonations of human continuity. (pp. 38-39) This perspective that promotes thickly textured descriptions in a search for essential meanings to an experience has specific research techniques associated with it. The phenomenological researcher utilizes the in depth interview, considering it a discourse or conversation because, "Participants are human subjects-that is, they are actors (the subjects of sentences); they are not objects (passive recipients of stimuli)" (Polkinghorne, 1989, p. 47). The researcher puts a premium on details even utilizing previously developed metaphor or myth to probe into imagination and 88

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perception. He or she is likely to ask questions such as, "What did you experience?" or "What was it like for you?" instead of "What happened?" (Polkinghorne, 1989) All along the researcher is attempting to set aside prejudgments as much as possible and to be completely open, receptive, and naive in listening to research participants describe their experience of the phenomenon (Moustakas, 1994). Perception remains the primary source of knowledge. Once the researcher has completed the interviews and transcriptions, he or she embarks on three general steps: epoche, reduction, and then imaginative variation (Moustakas, 1994). The epoche is revisiting the phenomenon without pre-judgment. The reduction is writing a textural description of not just what one sees visually, but also what one "sees" as the internal acts of consciousness, the experience as such, and the rhythm and relationship between phenomenon and self. This involves bracketing, then placing each statement on an equal plain (horizonaling), followed by assigning textural meanings to those horizons. Then the researcher 89

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clusters the horizons into themes and completes the reduction by organizing the horizons and themes into a coherent textural description. The purpose of the imaginative variation that follows is to analyze data to describe the structures of the experience. The researcher seeks possible meanings by utilizing imagination, varying the frames of reference, employing polarities and reversals, and approaching the phenomenon from divergent perspectives. He or she is trying to discover the "how" which speaks to conditions that illuminate the "what" (Moustakas, 1994) Again, the overall aim is to find meanings and essences for the phenomenon. With description and perception as the data, the researcher then constructs a combined textural-structural description of the experience for each individual .. These go together into a composite textural-structural description of the meaning and essences of the experience for the group as a whole. This final description is a synthesis of the meaning and essences of the phenomenon (Moustakas, 1994). Generalizability comes not from population 90

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characteristics, but from the specificity of the essential description {Polkinghorne, 1989). Phenomenological research, like qualitative research in general, is fairly new and evolving. It may indeed be an antithesis to scientific method or empiricism. Or it may be a synthesis within the dialectic, recognition that human beings studying other human beings are indeed different than humans researching objects. Phenomenological research methods encompass and blend the subjective and objective viewpoints of social science research while advocating description that creates meaning for individual and collective human endeavors. Seeking meaning to what human beings do is certainly an exemplary purpose for research. Researching Hispanic Populations Interviews in qualitative research are generally probing face-to-face encounters with potentially intimate revelations from the interviewee, or, at least, little opportunity for merely pat answers. Both researcher and subject have to overcome inherent barriers to self-91

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disclosure, even if they no longer call each other strangers. Yet another factor comes into play when the researcher crosses racial, ethnic, gender, or even wide age difference lines. Then he or she is researching within the context of a power relationship as well (Anderson, 1993i Stanfield, 1994), because the researcher, who, at least initially, sets the interview agenda, may also come from the viewpoint of the majority culture. Stanfield (1994) gave an example ofsome research mentioning the relationship of West Africans to dead ancestors, being defined in Western institutional terms as a religion, therefore limiting its use and relevancy to Western research. He went on to mention: Although the. powerful-be they men, whites, or adults-have had the luxury of constructing their realities, a characteristic of the oppressedwomen, Afro-Americans,and other people of color and children-has been the socio-political controls that have limited the reality construction choices they can choose from and enjoy. (p. 180) A phenomenological researcher would acknowledge this as an "a priori" structure going into the research process. This research is not dealing with cultural differences as 92

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profound as ancestor worship versus Western belief systems, but cultural outlooks on schooling may have considerable impact. John Ogbu (1978, 1982, 1991, & 1992) theorized cultural differences and resonated the power relationship aspect with his ideas about oppositional minorities. In attempting to answer why some U.S. religious and ethnic minorities succeed educationally more than others, he conceptualized that some groups came to the United States voluntarily such as the Vietnamese, or received considerable autonomy such as Mormons or Jews. The Vietnamese endorsed American public education as a means to acculturate to a society they had chosen to come to, and autonomous religious groups dealt with the dominant culture from power attained from common beliefs and practices. Not so, though, for Native Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanos, brought into American culture by either military and economic conquest or slavery. Ogbu (1982 & 1992) theorized that these groups tend to view their difficulties over generations as part 93

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of institutionalized discrimination, which leads to questioning the institution of schools. In this research I am the researcher and interviewer, and I am Anglo. I did not grow up among Hispanics, though I have spent over twenty years of adult life in multicultural settings within the Valley and in other parts of Colorado. Nonetheless, I am product of the majority Anglo culture that becomes an "a priori" structure or outlook that I bring to the interview and research process. Part of that outlook is my belief in the value of American public. schools and higher education, in large part because those institutions benefited me personally, and I do not feel that I suffered any significant discrimination in American schools due to my background. In contrast, though, a general distrust of schools among oppositional minorities, as (Ogbu, 1978, 1982 & 1992) posited, may very well exist and, in fact, appeared as an "a priori" structure among some of the interviewees. Another issue in the scenario of an Anglo interviewing Hispanic respondents lays in question 94

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sensitivity. Marin & Marin (1991) recommended telephone interviews, warning that, "Hispanics could be expected to be more wary of researchers than are other ethnic or racial groups" (p. 42). However that contradicts their own earlier research (Marin & Marin, 1984) that compared telephone, verbal face-to-face, and private face-to-face interviews with Hispanics about the sensitive subjects of sexual behavior and illegal substance use. They found similar accuracy in all three approaches. Moore & Weeks (1981) also found in 1975 research that interviewer ethnicity did not affect Hispanic responses with nonsensitive questions. Questions in this research had potential to be "sensitive", depending on how the interviews transpired, as would any autobiographical questioning. To counteract potential wariness among the interviewees, I depended some on my own reputation among people that the respondents might know, credibility coming from living in the Valley and having a number of Hispanic friends, especially within well educated circles. Knowing the research about initial circumspection, I also utilized my own well-honed 95

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empathic skills from years of talking to parents and teachers about sensitive areas, even when I was in an authority position. One more "a priori" structure that I possess is that I did not choose to remain as an adult where I grew up in suburban Cincinnati. Except for three summers during college, I left that area for good atage eighteen. Had I grown up ip the San Luis Valley, I might have followed the same pattern, leaving, and moving to another region in the United States. Although I sustain considerable loyalty to the San Luis Valley and environs, I do not personally enjoy the possible benefits nor the disadvantages of living where I grew up. Marin & Marin (1991) wrote a short book about researching Hispanic populations. The main emphasis is on quantitative research, but some of their recommendations apply to qualitative research. They noted a tendency of more intense responses on five point Likert scales, along with more acquiescent or socially desirable responses among the less educated and poorer populations. Marin & Marin (1991) also recommended that 96

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the researcher not be from the respondents' community. The Valley is populated enough for me to avoid interviewing people I have actually met before, but I was not able to steer clear of having all the respondents know nothing about me, as I occupy a public position in a Hispanic majority county. Research Creswell {1998) recommended interviews with up to ten individuals who have experienced the phenomenon utilizing a long interview protocol. The "phenomenon," of course, is Hispanic individuals who grew up in economically poor circumstances within the Valley, who attained a degree followed by leadership as evidenced by their current occupational position, their track record, and ongoing ability to impact Valley residents. The sample is an equal gender mix, with a spectrum of leadership within several careers {See Appendix A) The most effective method for finding respondents was in asking acquaintances to identify individuals they knew, after I first described the kind of interviewee I was looking for. The best single source for that was 97

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Anna, the person I interviewed for the pilot study. Knowing many people in her social and professional life, she easily gave me an initial list of possibilities, and I interviewed several of them. Other acquaintances that led me to individuals included the founder of a local day care center, a recreational leader, a high school counselor, and one University of Colorado leader even gave me his brother's name and telephone number. One agency, Talent Search, located at Adams State College supplied further leads, and I later interviewed a counselor working there. In most cases, leaders led me to other leaders; in the end I was able to interview a strong mix from different Valley regions within a variety of occupations and leadership experiences. I interviewed respondents generally in their thirties for two reasons. First, they have had an opportunity to develop a record of success and/or leadership since graduation. Second, their memories of degree attainment are fairly recent, but tempered by maturity and hindsight. 98

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Although in many ways the Valley is one community, some economic and cultural differences exist between regions north of Alamosa versus those south of there, and the western side also has some well-to-do economic pockets. Therefore, I sought some geographical balance in the sample. Research subjects lived or grew up in Valley towns Center, Monte Vista, Alamosa, San Luis, Antonito, and La Jara. Occupational fields included a small business owner, a bank vice president, several professional educators, a physician's assistant (P. A.), and some in middle management within the public sector. None still lived in poverty, and some lived on a single income while others benefited from double incomes resulting from marriage. Polkinghorne (1989) credited Adrian van Kaam with other suggestions in subject selection specifically for phenomenological research. Ones that applied to this study included: (a)the ability to express themselves linguistically with relative ease; (b)the ability to sense and express feelings and emotions without shame and 99

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inhibition; (c)the ability to sense and express the experiences that accompanied these feelings; and(d)the ability to report what was going on within them. All the respondents demonstrated these abilities adequately and within the study's findings are many direct quotations reflecting the above-mentioned characteristics including some rather poignant, revealing statements. The main purpose in gathering data within the phenomenological research framework is to learn of the subjects' experiences (Creswell, 1998; Denzin, 1989; Moustakas, 1994) I utilized questions that either pointed directly to aspects of the phenomenon, or led me towards unexpected facets that led to still more probing. All questions I asked, had intention to glean more information, oriented to describing the experience with the purpose of not only thickening the interviewee's description, but also to constantly redirect the subject toward her/his own experiencing (Polkinghorne, 1989) If he or she was ambiguous, I clarified by asking the question anew with different phrasing or by realizing that I had not expressed the question well enough for 100

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full understanding. In that way, I suppose I relied on long ago learned teaching skills in adjusting the presentation in midstream. The interview protocol is located in Appendix B. One other practice I followed, recommended in qualitative and phenomenological research was to take "margin notes," a form of self-reflection, while I interviewed (Creswell, 1998; Polkinghorne, 1989). I also took the self-reflection a step further by writing down immediate reactive or observational notes within an hour of the interview's completion. And, while interviewing, I constantly remembered that, "the purpose of phenomenological research is to describe the structure of an experience, not to describe the characteristics of a group who have had the experience (Polkinghorne, 1989, p. 48) Data Analysis Data analysis began with the primary research question: What meaningful experiences do working poor Hispanics of the San Luis Valley describe that led to 101

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college degree attainment and later success within the Valley? The individuals I interviewed provided raw data in their own words, but the important findings came from a distillation process leading to a description of the essence of the phenomenon (Creswell, 1998; Denzin, 1989; Moustakas, 1994; Polkinghorne, 1989). The first sub-question under the primary research question is: What are the underlying themes and contexts that account for this experience? This question was also the first step in data analysis. It corresponded well with Polkinghorne's (1989) classification of data into categories and Denzin's (1989) bracketing or reduction of the phenomenon into essential elements. It also matched the classifying process that Moustakas (1994) and Creswell (1998) take called the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method which calls for listing significant statements from the subjects, treating each one as having equal worth, and then working to create a list of nonrepetitive, nonoverlapping statements. These "meaning units", part of the horizonalization of the data, placed 102

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all responses on an even plain, with ones evident among each respondent alongside isolated responses. The next subquestion is: Do structural meanings exist for this phenomenon, and, if so, what are they? This stage begins data interpretation. Polkinghorne (1989) quoting Van Kaam writes of "reduction and linguistic transformation of the selections into more precisely descriptive terms"(p. 52). He provided an example of two interviewee statements as "I feel a hundred pounds less heavy" and "A load off my chest" interpreted as "a feeling of relief." Moustakas (1994) and Creswell (1998) called this a description of the textures of the experience answering the question, "What happened?" Denzin's (1989) step is a bit different stated as, "The researcher begins to formulate interpretations about how the processes and interactions that have been observed interrelate and influence one another"(p. 31). Polkinghorne's description of this step seemed clearer and easier to follow. From these textural descriptions, the researcher develops a structural description, the "how" that speaks 103

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to conditions that illuminate the "what" (Creswell, 1998; Moustakas, 1994). Moustakas (1994) went on to recommend employing imaginative variation, earlier described in the phenomenology section. The interpretive process continued into the next subquestion: What are the universal structures that precipitate feelings and thoughts about the experience? Polkinghorne (1989), who described psychological studies in the phenomenological tradition, advocates a grasp of the whole picture and to formulate a general description of the structure underlying the variations in meaning. He further promotes zigzagging between the structural meanings and a proposed general description through several rounds until the meanings clearly support the final general description or universal structures. Moustakas (1994) called this a textural-structural description that leads to the essences and meanings of the phenomenon, which Creswell (1998) incorporated into an overall description of the experience. Denzin (1989) reminded the researcher of deviant data, and that this part of the process incorporates that into a 104

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coherent, interpretative framework that attempts to deal with every aspect of the phenomenon. A composite or synthesis of the meaning and essences (Creswell, 1998; Moustakas, 1994) should answer the question: What are the invariant structural themes that facilitate a description of this experience? Polkinghorne (1989) felt that other researchers would be able to agree that, "the product of the synthesis is accurate and clearly presents a possible description of the essential structured elements of the experience being investigated" (p.56). Denzin (1989), maybe a more cautious individual, warned that the interpretation will always be provisional, to be taken up when the researcher returns to the field. Within the composite the researcher should provide tables or figures of statements, as well as meaning units (Creswell, 1998). The answers to the final two sub questions about the most motivating experiences for San Luis Valley Hispanic working poor came from identifying the invariant structural themes. 105

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As for the validity of the findings, Moustakas (1994) believes that it begins with the researcher's perception: the meaning of the experience for oneself. Following that inner dialogue, the researcher turns outward, establishing intersubjective validity by testing out the understandings with others, and finally seeking informant feedback. Maybe with more experience I might see the wisdom of this process, but I preferred Polkinghorne's (1989) following reflective questions to guide my checks on the research. Polkinghorne (1989) began with the general question: "Does the general structural description provide an accurate portrait of the common features and structural connections that are manifest in the examples collected?" His italicized sub questions guided my tactics that I have written after each one. The first question is: Did the interviewer influence the contents of the subjects' descriptions in such a way that the descriptions do not truly reflect the subjects' actual experience? 106

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To prevent this tendency, I practiced on some individuals beforehand and learned to revisit responses during the interview to not only seek similarity to the previous response but also to flesh out the response. I was not searching for a "right" answer, and I sometimes had to explain that to the respondent. Polkinghorne's second question is: Is the transcription accurate, and does it convey the meaning of the oral presentation in the interview? I tape recorded all the interviews, and utilized an experienced transcriber. As for the nuances such as body language, facial expressions, voice tone, and gestures, I followed the common practice of jotting down notes during the interview, and wrote down lengthier observations immediately after leaving the interview. I coded the nuances next to the statement the subject was making at the time of the nuance and then looked for patterns or special intensities associated with particular statements. Polkinghorne's next subquestion is: In the analysis of the transcriptions, were there conclusions other than 107

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those offered by the researcher that could have been derived? Has the researcher identified these alternatives and demonstrated why they are less probable than the one decided on? Fortunately, I found backup for a number of conclusions in the literature review already included in this dissertation, but I also had to keep my mind fresh and free of presuppositions. Polkinghorne's (1989) recommendation to go back and forth between structural meanings and a proposed general description was helpful with this question because it provided for ongoing analysis and hindsight. I based my imaginative variation on my knowledge of the Valley and to some degree on my a priori tendencies, but, frankly, themes tended to emerge rather apparently. Respondents reflected a spectrum within the generally universal themes. For example, one subject, Josette, had several responses that initially appeared to be outliers, really tended to express more conservative, close-to-home opinions that still stayed within themes. She defined goal setting behavior as a series of accomplishments in contrast to another subject, 108

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John, who treated goal-setting as an inherent skill that an individual had to almost feel her/his way through. Nonetheless, like all the other research subjects both individuals demonstrated goal-setting behaviors. The next checkup question is: Is it possible to go from the general structural description to the transcriptions and to account for the specific contents and connections in the original examples of the experience? Polkinghorne (1989) mentioned that the phenomenological researcher works in the linguistic realm, not in statistically expressed arguments, and that the reporting needs to have reasoned and convincing responses to questions that responsible readers would have. Or in other words, specific quotations must exist to back up the structural description. I utilized extensive examples within the findings, some rather lengthy, in order to capture the entire thought as well as briefer ones. In other examples, I paraphrased responses taking care to remain as true to the actual words as possible. The textural and structural 109

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descriptions contain numerous paraphrased and direct quotations. Polkinghorne's (1989) final sub question is: Is the structural description situation specific, or does it hold in general for the experience in other situations? Much of the data is situation specific in that it is limited geographically and culturally to the San Luis Valley. However northern New Mexico has a similar Hispano population (Nostrand, 1992), and possibly other rural Hispanic populations such as in southeastern Colorado. It may generalize some to other working poor populations like the individuals Fitchen (1995) researched. However, this study has been one of discovery, and other research, both quantitative and qualitative, may find if their respective populations match San Luis Valley working poor Hispanics enough to find correlation with my findings. Despite the helpful questions and procedures described above, I soon discovered that analyzing reams of transcripts can be daunting initially. Nonetheless, after reading the transcripts many times over I began 110

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distilling significant statements. My criteria for "significant" included statements the respondent repeated throughout the interview either verbatim or with some variation. Other statements stood out because the subject utilized it as a concluding or summarizing statement, and still other statements stood out because the subject appeared to attach extra passion to it. Initial margin notes certainly jogged my memory in those cases. In the process of recording significant statements, I preserved exact quotations in many instances, but I also began paraphrasing, thus beginning interpretation development. Simple tricks such as placing direct quotations in bold print and a bit of initial color coding with markers subtly led to the next step of finding meaning units. Having already read the raw transcripts many times and having already begun the analysis process by identifying significant statements, I was by now aware of some obvious meaning units. I searched for backup and echoes within every respondent and zigzagged back to the raw data (Polkinghorne, 1989) frequently, while second 111

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guessing my initial significant statement analysis. I carried out another step in interpretation, rewriting significant statements with attached meaning. I found that to be a difficult step because the researcher must attach meaning to a respondent's statement that the respondent might not actually have actually declared. For example one subject stated that he questioned why he was putting up steel buildings right after high school, but he still wanted to stay in Alamosa where a degree could help him. I concluded, along with other statements in his interview, that he consciously chose to postpone immediate economic gain by attaining a degree. This was goal-setting behavior, a major theme within the findings. Another helpful practice was to include the subject's name by each meaning unit or significant statement, allowing me an easy way to refer back to direct quote backup within the transcripts. Once I had identified meaning units, I organized them into themes and further analyzed the themes for textural and structural elements. Some themes had sub themes within and, in some situations, I had to account 112

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for outlier statements. This provided a further check on my analysis, and, painful as it was, I sometimes had to scrap promising themes and reinterpret meaning units or significant statements. The final step, maybe the most intellectually enjoyable one, was.to describe the "essence" of the phenomenon, the most succinct distillation of the data and the culmination of the entire analysis. The essence should highlight a degree of meaning and purpose to the findings, that indeed I experienced and discovered. The essence, like a mountaintop, is made of the same material that is underneath, only the viewpoint is wider and more memorable. Pilot Study In order to finalize the interview questions and to discover new information leads, I conducted a pilot study. It was a lengthy, two-session interview with a female Hispano leader named Anna, who heads a local agency that recruits promising Hispanic high school students to go to college. Although in her early 113

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forties, thus a bit older than the sample, she graduated from Antonito High School and later Adams State College with a B. A. and a Master's degree. In addition, she did some Ph. D. work and received a Licensed Practical Nurse license. Her leadership track record includes her current position, as well as leadership consulting for the Colorado governor, numerous leadership presentations, and some activist leadership as an Alamosa Public Schools parent. The interview backed up several themes from research. Anna traced her lineage seven generations from southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, although she did not refer to herself as "Hispano" (Nostrand, 1992). She preferred "Spanish" as a synonym for her ancestory. Her self-described leadership style fit into an accommodation mode (Garcia & de la Garcia, 1977; Martinez, 1999), as she commented on other people's behavior as having more impact on her leadership than their ethnicity. Several times she mentioned the Valley as luring her back from brief periods that she lived outside it (Donaldson, 1976 & 1986; Hedlund & Vollmer, 114

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1994; Hull, 1994), claiming to be a "different" person in the Valley. Anna mentioned mentor influence (Gandara, 1995), the importance of financial aid and Adam State's proximity (Lerner & Nagai, 1997; Mortensen & Wu, 1990; Munoz, 1986), and the work ethic coupled with perseverance (Gandara, 1995). Antonito High School did not have a college prep curriculum, but she did benefit from what she called "gifted and talented" education that began a few years before she graduated (Alva, 1991; Astin, 1982; Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Chacon, Cohen, & Strover, 1986; Del Castllo et. al., 1988). Although maternal influence in college attendance decision-making is apparent in research (Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Del Castillo, Frederickson, McKenna, & Ortiz, 1988; Gandara, 1995; Watt, 1987), Anna provided an unexpected perspective on it. She acknowledged her mother's influence numerous times including a statement that, "You don't let your parents down; your dad might kill you, but your mom's heart would break." However she credited her mother's influence as countering the tendency for Hispanic males and, in her mind, Hispanic 115

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culture in general, as holding Hispanic females back. Several times she mentioned how her ex-spouse, former boyfriends, and some older relatives had actively discouraged her from pursuing a degree or a career. Her mother, also a mentor and hero to Anna, helped keep her head high and encouraged perseverance. Even though her late father actually modeled degree attainment during Anna's young adulthood, she constantly credited her mother's influence for her successes. Her mother may have also de-emphasized pressure for family domestic responsibilities on weekends during college. The idea of lowered expectations for Hispanic females may have impacted her peer relations too. Despite it now being years later, Anna expressed anger towards college peers for exerting considerable pressure to "party" and get out during her undergraduate years. Before, during high school, she had deliberately written incorrect answers on tests so as not to appear bright in front of peers. Only one teacher caught her doing this. Anna apparently felt anger and disgust with lower expectations because she is a woman, a belief she felt is 116

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more prevalent within Hispanic culture. She assumed her mother had the same feelings but could not act on them due to fewer opportunities in an earlier generation. When I asked Anna about growing up working poor, she acknowledged it, pointing out that everyone was poor in those days around Antonito. But she tempered her analysis by stating that she did not consider herself especially poor because those were the people that her family went to help on Sundays. Volunteerism in her family motivated Anna towards career choices that directly help community people, such as her current position assisting promising Valley high school student towards college. Overall, the pilot study confirmed quite a bit of previous research, and I was also able to consolidate some questions for a more efficient interview. Also, Anna tended to ramble, or think aloud while formulating answers, thus permitting more probing questioning. Two new research leads developed from the study. Anna's mother, by word and by modeling, encouraged her education to counter tendencies within Hispanic culture, 117

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or at least her extended family, that hold women back from careers. Research (Chacon, Cohen, & Strover, 1986; Del Castillo et. al., 1988; Gandara, 1982; Gandara, 1995) implies expectations for more domestic roles for Hispanic women, but it did not include the anger and resentment that Anna expressed. The other lead concerned the volunteerism present in Anna's upbringing. Giving back to one's community or culture, helping the less fortunate, or even charitable work from the Catholic tradition may be a motivating reason to pursue a degree and stay in the Valley. Such reasons certainly influenced Anna. These two "leads," volunteerism and resentments Anna felt towards the treatment of females in Hispanic culture, turned out to be major themes among the research sample, thus backing them up even more. After completing the data gathering, I realized that Anna was an especially strong initial source as she freely expressed herself with themes that resurfaced powerfully within the later research sample. 118

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CHAPTER 6 FINDINGS Eight themes arose from the data. All eight are nearly universal among the research subjects, but with individual outlier experiences within most themes. Conveniently, the themes have a certain chronological order from childhood and high school, through college, and onto young adulthood. Within childhood and high school, an especially robust theme of individuals promoting college attendance emerged, followed by valueladen themes of individual goal setting and community service. As the subjects entered young adulthood after college, they expressed leadership themes centering on Anglo-Hispanic leadership, issues about Anglo dominance, and Hispanic gender issues. A final leadership theme, the value of a college degree towards their leadership, came from the subjects' collective hindsight, and, finally, one theme, economic issues, permeated the entire time line of their experiences with the phenomenon. 119

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Each theme contained several means of reporting and interpreting. The textural description is the story, actually incorporating some narrative elements, but is essentially the "what happened" aspect of the phenomenon. Direct quotations and multiple examples help in telling the story as well as providing more precise description. Following each textural description is the structural description, the "how it happened" part of the theme. For example, within the theme of individuals influencing college attendance, those individuals influenced the research subjects in three general ways: by modeling, by preaching a strong value, and by creating a reaction. These methods, though overlapping some, are the means behind the story, the structure to explain what took place. A third aspect to describing each theme is my experience with the theme. Both the textural and structural descriptions pass through my lens and imaginative variation, and a description of my experience sheds more light on the description of the findings. A final distillation of the phenomenon's description is the essence of the phenomenon or its invariant 120

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structural themes. That description, the most succinct one, comes after the accounts of the various themes, and brings forth the meaning of the phenomenon for the research subjects. Individuals Promoting College Attendance Textural Description Every subject within the study experienced considerable influence from one or more individuals promoting college attendance. In many cases, but by no means all, those individuals were one or both of the parents, but other influential individuals included siblings, teachers, friends' parents, and future in laws. Some interviewees had a single and primary influential person, while others learned from multiple individuals at different, key times in their growing up. For several participants, the influential person(s) exercised actual authority in their lives, contrasting with others who took genuine interest in their well-being. And, not surprisingly, during the interviews almost all subjects 121

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expressed unsolicited gratitude, albeit sometimes grudgingly, for these influential people. Parents and grandparents had the first crack at influencing their children or grandchildren. Some were lucky enough to have parents promote the college experience the entire time they lived under their roofs. One case in point, Virgil relates: Growing up it was always known to all of us that we were going to go to college and it was part of our education, and we would complete college. And the biggest influence was probably my mother and father. Both of them had high school diplomas and that was about it. They always spent a lot of time doing homework with us. They always kept us real involved all through grade school, all through junior high, and all through high school. They always had us involved in numerous activities, and we always talked about college, and where do you go to college, and what you're going to study, all through life. Josette related that both her parents were "really big on education," but like several other subjects she credited one parent a bit over the other. She characterized her mother as the one who was "pushy" and constantly telling her she could do better. Similarly, Rob had a father who left no doubt as to what he expected. "All the while I was growing up, ever since 122

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day one of school, education was first and foremost inside of our home. My dad said there was no room for error." He added that an A on his report card was not good enough since his father wanted to know why it was not an A+. Not all subjects who noted parental influence had that "in your face" experience of education above all else. Lisa Marie related that her mother had wanted a college education but was herself subject to an earlier era of fewer opportunities. Instead, she "tried to give us a little bit more ... with piano and music lessons. Rather than being a constant topic, the idea of going to college was an understood and understated message within Lisa Marie's household. Neither did Ken receive a constant, permeating message. He stated succinctly, "Mom and Dad always believed in education. They didn't have it." In contrast, Bennie's mother gave her two messages. Education was important through high school, but beyond that, it was a burden on other expected responsibilities. When her brother attended college, Bennie remembered, "My 123

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mother started to realize that it was something he was going to do, regardless of what anybody else thought, and it got a lot better. She came around and accepted it." However, Bennie, because she was a Hispanic female, faced other psychological obstacles from her mother in pursuing a college degree. Several interviewees had older siblings who blazed the way for them, either through example or from active encouragement. Laurie's parents did not promote college attendance at all, but competition with an older sister had quite an impact. They competed socially in high school, and, once they were in college, would compare grades and the alleged difficulty of the respective courses they tackled. Laurie continued her story with: She always excelled in school. I think there was that competitive streak of my having to do better than she did. But no one ever mentioned it, or no one ever compared us, but it was like I was going to do better than she did. Besides Laurie, five other subjects, Ken, Lisa Marie, Josette, Bennie, and Tammy, had older siblings who attended college. Tammy attended as a "nontraditional student" in that she already had her own children, and 124

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her much older sister attended at about the same time. She described her sister as a "mentor" and close friend, and was one of several individuals in Tammy's life promoting college attendance. Many, if not most, San Luis Valley families have grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and second cousins nearby. Not only did these extended families have direct influence in several cases, but in two families, college attendance also became a matter of family honor. One extended family member, Tammy's grandfather, had an early influence on her attitudes towards education: So I remember my grandfather coming over to pick up the Pueblo Chieftain. Every afternoon he'd drive into town because he lived five miles out of town. When I would tell him I was sick, that was still not a reason to be home. So I remember my grandfather coming over and me hiding because I didn't want him to know I wasn't in school. My grandfather was a very hard worker. There was never time in the day that any work should not be done. You use every hour of the day and of the daylight to work. I can remember that if you're not in school, there better be a good reason. Rob also had the example of an uncle who became a school administrator in Colorado Springs and who, "always found a key moment to plug higher education." That along 125

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with similar messages from Uncle Rudy backed up the strong education value Rob was already receiving from his father. Meanwhile, Leland, who learned from quite a few influential individuals, had Aunt Connie giving him very concrete messages. When he felt like wavering in his commitment to college, she reminded him of the kind of job he could actually look forward to with a degree. "You don't want to live like that. You want to live a little higher than poverty level, she bluntly told him. Both Rob and Josette felt a family honor associated with college graduation. Rob's family strongly encouraged his being the first in his family to graduate from college. Josette went so far as to say, "I knew the day I graduated that he (grandfather) was watching over me and saying, 'You know what, I finally had one of my grandchildren go on and do it.'" Virgil did not specifically allude to family honor, but college graduation was such an emphasis that he would have ended up a black sheep of sorts if he had not. All his many siblings received undergraduate degrees and two have post graduate degrees. 126

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Five subjects mentioned teachers having considerable influence on their college attendance choices, although two, Leland and Tammy, pointed out negative messages they received from teachers and school. Josette, Bennie, Rob, John, Leland, and Virgil all spoke of individuals by name. The primary influential person for Bennie was one, Mrs. Evans, a high school math teacher. Bennie related the inspiring anecdote that Mrs. Evans would not let her settle for General Math just because all her friends were taking that. Mrs. Evans even tore the paper up to place her in that class, and then mapped out classes for her to help her on to college. This was especially meaningful. to Bennie because her family tended to place females in roles to serve men, and Bennie appreciated a professional woman modeling an alternative. In general, teachers that the subjects mentioned either specifically pushed college or gave them a strong message of belief in their capabilities. Two individuals had influential individuals outside their families and the education community. John fell into a group of friends in high school, and one friend's 127

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parents took an interest in John's future. Through the auspices of the Church of the Nazarene, they actually showed John college opportunities, and he eventually attended his first two years at a Nazarene college in Oklahoma. Although he did not maintain the relationship to the present day, his friend's parents still had more influence than anyone else on his choosing to attend college. In a similar lucky turn of events, Leland's future in laws essentially had him earn their daughter's hand. As he related: Well, actually, it was just a casual conversation, and then it became' a push and it was a convincing push. They were very selective as to who was going to date their daughter. They expected him to be one that had a higher education than the norm here in the Valley, one that could provide for their daughter. So basically I was in a situation that either I make something of my life, or I don't, and I just deteriorate the relationship. Both his future in laws also tutored him some; and they remain quite proud of his accomplishments to this day. Thus, each interviewee told of individuals providing them strong messages to attend college as a step towards later success. Some planted seeds and nurtured them throughout the subjects' childhoods, in contrast to 128

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others communicating an intense message at a crucial time in the subjects' lives. But just as important as these individuals actually influencing the subjects is how they did so. The structural underpinnings of the crucial how to aspect to this theme, flesh out individual perseverance and aspiration. Structural Description Influential individuals communicated the importance of college attendance in three general ways: by modeling the behavior, by preaching a strong value, and by causing a reaction within the research subject that resulted in college attendance. Both modeling and value shaping also have sub themes. However the "methods" of modeling, values, or messages that led to reaction, frequently blended in the subjects' experiences. The subjects usually received a combination of modeling, values, or messages that led to reaction. For example, Bennie's mother made it clear to her that she favored her older brother, and that she (Bennie) had 129

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female responsibilities like cooking and cleaning. "I was insulted that I didn't count my brother was so important to my mother, and all her energy was spent on him. I never felt I was a vital part of the family, and I needed to show myself that that wasn't true." Yet Bennie's reaction to this perception was not quite enough to push her to college. She also needed a strong value message from her high school math teacher that she could be whatever she wanted to be, and a modeling message from that same older brother when he struggled to graduate from college. Bennie's impetus came from all three ways, while the majority learned from at least two of the ways. John, on the other hand, received motivation only from a modeling influence, and Laurie and Lisa Marie had strong influences from a reactive mode. Within the modeling influence, two means appeared. One was strictly by example. In one inspiring example, Ken's father modeled sacrifice and direction by taking on an extra job that he held for many years to help his children attend college and possibly make up for the lost income they could have generated by staying home. 130

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Josette spoke of a cousin, whom she did not know well, who modeled degree attainment, while another subject, Tammy, knew that all her husband's siblings completed their degrees. The other means of modeling included an investment of time and support. Leland's future in laws invested time in tutoring him, and John's friend's parents modeled the college experience by taking him places for that exposure. Virgil's parents invested time and support in their modeling while doing homework with him and encouraging him in school activities. They also exemplified an adult model by being active in community and church. And Bennie's influential math teacher even modeled time and support with extra instruction, thus reinforcing Bennie's efforts to forge a direction different than her mother's expectations. Certainly modeling influences spilled over into strong value influences. The hard work, don't waste a moment, that Tammy's grandfather modeled helped create a strong personal accountability value within her. She remembered: 131

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There was always accountability. It was always someone I had to answer to. And whether it was personally, socially, or academically, I always had to justify why I did what I did, or how come I was going to do what I was going to do what I was going to do. In Josette's family, her cousin and siblings modeled the value that college degree attainment is tied into family honor. The family honor value is one sub theme that shows up within the strong value aspect of individuals promoting college. Tammy, Josette, Ken, Rob, and Virgil all tied their degree attainment some into honoring and reflecting on their families. Apparently, family honor became a value added motivation for continuing their quest. An additional value that several received was that certain behaviors will lead to success. Again the modeling influence seeps over into this value, and the expected behaviors are fairly concrete. As one behavioral example, school attendance was an important sign of tangible accomplishment for both Josette and Tammy. Rob's father preached an A+ perfectionism as a key to success plus Virgil's parents felt that knowing how to work was a necessary behavior towards achievement. 132

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Likewise, Leland learned from several sources that ongoing effort would help him realize that, "college would come easy." A third strong value centered on being able to dream and succeed. Bennie really needed that message from her math teacher in order to counteract mixed messages she received from her mother. Similarly, Leland's Aunt Connie reinforced the dream of climbing out of poverty, initially by just pointing it out to him, and later others added to that by telling him that he would otherwise waste a good mind. Josette repeatedly tied a behavior, doing one's personal best, into being whatever one chooses to be. "Accomplishments," a term that Josette used over and over, were attained dreams, and accomplishments were and are vital to her self-concept. Two subjects, Lisa Marie and Laurie, seemed motivated only from a reactive influence. Neither could recall conversations promoting a strong value, nor did they speak of modeling, though both had older siblings who attended college. Laurie experienced direct competition with her sister, the only other sibling to 133

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attend college. Lisa Marie's mother gave a more subtle of message of few opportunities in her own background, but she also provided some enlightening means, such as music lessons, to help Lisa Marie not repeat her own experience. In a more intense reactive mode, three individuals gained motivation from outright negative messages. Leland recalled a high school teacher who told him he would not amount to much, and Tammy mentioned her perception of outright prejudice towards Hispanics in the Alamosa school system. In the same way, Bennie obviously had something to show her mother and later her husband, who did not wholeheartedly support a woman seeking a degree. Interpreting data also involves acknowledging the researcher's experience (Creswell, 1998; Moustakas, 1994). During my growing up, college degree attainment was such an understood value, I did not need to have it modeled to me, nor did I have to react to other influences. It was already such a strong value in my Anglo, upper middle class, suburban culture that going to 134

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college was another step that one took, almost without question. The only discussions I had with individuals about college attendance had to do with going to a better college, not whether or not I would or could attend. In contrast to my experiences, degree attainment was not an understood phenomenon within the culture the research subjects lived in. All of them required a laser beam like message from one or more individuals about the benefits of college attendance, even if that message questioned the subject's capabilities. Unlike my experiences these research participants needed key individuals who became necessary anchors for motivation towards college attendance and tenacity to finish. Goal Orientation Textural Description Goal orientation was another universal aspect of this phenomenon among the subjects, but the goals carne from several motivations, accompanied by one almost universal behavior. In contrast to the influential individuals theme, when the subjects were all recipients, 135

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later acting on the messages these individuals gave them, goal orientation was more of a proactive value, one the subjects developed internally. And a nearly universal behavior associated with it was to leave the Valley for a while for various reasons. Only Leland and Josette did not leave, and Leland struggled mightily with the idea, but fathering a child made quite a big difference in his staying. "I'd rather die trying than always wondering if I could have made it," avowed Rob, indicating the passion some subjects associated with their chosen goals. He continued, "I think first and foremost what kept me going was I didn't want to quit. It's just a born trait I have. I set out, I began something, and I wanted to see it through." This passion existed in both men and women. Tammy also spoke of always wanting more of what she did not have, stating, "and I'm not afraid to work for what I want." She added, "I knew I was going to finish, and I was determined to finish." 136

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Other subjects expressed goal orientation more subtly. Ken spoke of the goal orientation behavior he learned growing up: You can just survive. Save up some money for six/eight months to buy clothes to go to school the next fall. Then we start again. Get a few extra jobs and put that money in a savings account and that's basically it. My parents made sure I saved some of that money I worked hard for, and the rest of my brothers and sisters. John had to think a bit about how he oriented himself towards a goal attainment mentality. His goal setting was more like one step at a time, figuring out as he went along. John and Leland, unlike the rest, did not experience a goal orientation branded into them. Although his in laws remained Leland's chief sustainers, he also needed quite a bit of encouragement from a few professors, high school teachers, and relatives. Leaving the Valley was a goal for some and a phenomenon of imposed circumstances for others. Laurie tied leaving into "exploring", akin to Virgil also following career opportunities for several years. Among those leaving due to circumstances, Bennie attributed the move to Farmington, New Mexico, as something her husband 137

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wanted to do, and she had no say. Tammy also went to Denver with her husband, while Lisa Marie followed some educational and career opportunities to Oregon. In contrast, Rob's growing up years provided his out of Valley experience, as he later remained within Valley environs his entire adult life including college years. Choosing to leave the Valley is an aspect of the phenomenon within the research group, but that is as far as it appears to go. Individuals left because they had to, while others exercised choice in leaving, and two never did. The effect of leaving the Valley was mixed also. Lisa Marie said, "I knew that coming back into the Valley was going to be painful personally, and I knew I would not be able to find something in my profession (deaf education)." Nonetheless she has stayed and adjusted her occupation. Virgil noted his appreciation for the Valley and believed that he learned valuable lessons outside to accentuate values he learned where he grew up. Finally, Ken left to follow some occupational interests available at the University of Colorado, but 138

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like Lisa Marie, returned to the Valley and readjusted his career aspirations. Structural Description The structural part of this theme has to do with individual motivations for their goals with three general ones arising from the data. Several pursued goals for economic gain. Still others attributed goal orientation to their families, either family honor or reaction to a family value. Thirdly, several learned a strong value of personal accountability and sacrifice to motivate them. Tammy encapsulated her economic motivation by stating, "I wanted to go on and complete my education and be able to take care of myself as well as my daughters and never have to depend on any one ever again." Additional reasons for this statement came from her unhappy marriage in Denver and not having the resume to escape. John experienced a slightly different one, that of an economic dependency cycle, and he grew to believe that a good job is necessary to be able to do what one wants to do. In turn, Lisa Marie specifically desired to 139

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transcend the poverty of her Antonito community, and Laurie has held onto a dream of being able to support her parents some day. These individuals did not aspire to wealth or to become nouveau riche. To them, economic gain meant freedom of choice and not having to depend on others constantly. And none are currently wealthy, but all appear to be better off economically than how they grew up. Family loyalty and values reappears in the goal orientation theme, just as it was present in messages from influential individuals. Of all the research participants, Josette epitomized this motivationthe most. Right after mentioning that she was the first grandchild on her father's side to attend college, she said, "I decided I was going to go to college and finish." Later she stated, "I think without my family, I wouldn't have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish." She paraphrased this statement several times within her interview, unabashedly sharing her pride in what she had accomplished. 140

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Rob followed his father's strong wishes without regret, but Bennie pursued her goals despite the family values her mother and later her husband espoused. Throughout his interview Virgil referred to the family value of sacrifice now for future gain, and even John, a more reluctant goal setter, acknowledged family support as quite important for his pursuits. In a bit of a variation, Ken mixed economic gain with family loyalty stating, ... we come from. the heart, and we grew from there and we achieved I think. There is some success in that we don't have to work the fields anymore; we can achieve anything academically wise." Both the economic gain and family loyalty sub themes overlapped into the personal accountability and sacrifice aspect to goal orientation. Bennie's reaction to negative family messages motivated her to sacrifice because it was so important to change her situation no matter the pressures to not do so. In sharp contrast, Virgil discovered that his parents were indeed correct. His sacrifices in going to college and pursuing his career resulted in his having the strongest economic 141

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circumstances of any of the subjects. For yet another variation, John appreciated his family's support, but he stated that goal achievement for him was one step at a time that he had to figure out. Finally, Leland, who received encouragement from so many, now preaches, "realizing your potential" to the Hispanic youth he teaches. Goal orientation may seem too obvious in discussion about degree attainment and later success. After all, how could anyone attain a degree without at least having it as a goal? But these individuals embarked on a more deliberate self-change than middle class people like me, who expected to complete college and live lives similar to their parents. Indeed, these people raised their economic expectations, and their families generated higher expectations than Fitchen's excerpt, "We aim for something a little better than what we have, but not that much better. Then, if we can't achieve our hopes, it's not a great disappointment" (Fitchen, 1995, p. 193). As the researcher, I, too, chose not to orient myself towards the above statement, but for different 142

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reasons. Goal orientation was and continues to be an inherent, family given value that I believe in. It was a value I conformed to, one that I did not question, and the only self-change I experienced was questioning the means towards goals. It was a comfortable query with a more than adequate safety net, even if I had made unwise choices. Goal orientation and key influential people are two sides of the degree attainment part of the phenomenon. Influential individuals planted the seed and provided value-laden nutrition to impact how individuals grew into their aspirations. But at some point, the subjects began sustaining themselves, growing their own limbs and roots by adhering to goal orientation. They internalized a lifetime value, nourished by later experiences and reinforcing an early choice and pattern. The value of and skills from goal orientation provided essential elements for an important, existential change that led to the next step, leadership and a degree of economic 143

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success. The subjects begin to transition into adulthood. Economic Influences Textural Description The research subjects all grew up in economically challenging circumstances with poverty levels ranging from ongoing welfare dependency to working poor to lower middle class. More significantly, perhaps, the Valley in general was then and still is mired in poverty, arguably a "culture of poverty", also impacting the economic outlook that the interviewees grew up with. Economic improvement from childhood is certainly a tangible result for nearly all the subjects, though not always a Horatio Alger, up by the bootstraps story. Nonetheless, all acknowledged economic challenges influencing their choices as either economic improvement, or, at least foregoing immediate gain for long term economic hope. Despite a misconception among some, that poverty somehow equates to welfare dependency, only one participant, John, grew up surviving on welfare payments. 144

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His single mom may have worked at some jobs, possibly in the underground cash economy, but he did not recall her doing any regular job. One might expect economic improvement to be a driving force for him, but, of all the research participants, he expressed the least amount of economic drive. He did not feel a dilemma to move to the Front Range to obtain a better paying position, nor did he say he attended college to gain a ticket to a lucrative job. To him, college attendance was a means to try a new experience, and his main goal was for a "respectable" job, ratherthan a high paying one. He is now a public school teacher, respectable but not high paying. About half the interviewees grew up in households that they described as quite poor. Leland mentioned a "survival level" that occupied the grandparents that raised him and interfered with their promoting the value of education. In like manner, Ken made more references to poverty compared to other respondents, frequently referring to friends who remain poor, working the fields or potato warehouses. Bennie even alluded to the idea 145

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that she was so used to doing without, that it sort of liberated her to attend college for other than economic reasons. And two individuals, Tammy and Bennie, married as teenagers, although neither indicated that was an undue economic hardship. Another group fluctuated between poverty and lower middle class, with some very likely lower middle class most of the time. Like others in this group, Laurie stated that she grew up having what she needed, but "without the luxuries." Some families owned land, as was the case with Virgil, Josette, and Lisa Marie. Rob's father was in the military, when Rob was younger and apparently retired leaving Rob to assert, "I'd say we were upper middle class the way it felt. I think realistically we were probably working class." All the research subjects utilized part-time jobs, grants, and scholarships to make it through college with few lengthy breaks to earn enough for another year. Several made unsolicited remarks about concentrating on studies by staying clear of the party crowd, maybe a group they perceived as not making the same sacrifices as 146

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them. And some made rather interesting decisions in regards to financial assistance during college. For instance, Rob turned down some scholarships for fear. their requirements would interfere with his graduating when he wanted to. Tammy's mother cautioned her not to go into debt for college, and consequently she did not do that nor have any scholarships. Conversely, Lisa Marie utilized poverty to her advantage in obtaining scholarships, with those opportunities strongly influencing her decision to pursue a degree. The only mention some made of financial assistance from family were some small loans or cash gifts every now and then. Structural Description The structural description for the economic influence theme is not so much "how" it happened, but rather its power to motivate college degree attainment and later career. Again, two groups emerged: one identified economic gain as a primary motivator, and the other tended to discount that as a main reason for college degree attainment. The individual economic 147

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circumstances growing up of how poor they had no discernible effect in resulting motivation. Individuals like Rob, Laurie, Tammy, and Virgil specifically mentioned economic gain as a motivator, and three of them have occupations that place them in the upper half of Valley income. Laurie talked of "financial security," and mentioned, "I always had this dream that I wanted to retire by the time I was forty." Tammy bluntly volunteered, "I always want more of what I have, and I always feel I want more than I have." Desiring economic gain or freedom was not always just a matter of deciding that and going out and doing it. Both Lisa Marie and Bennie spoke of creating one's own desire despite the family. Ken expressed almost a guilt feeling for striving ahead and leaving friends and family behind, still mired in poverty. The other group, discounting economic motive somewhat, did so for various reasons. Josette contemplated moving to the city for economic gain, but family loyalties kept her in the Valley, and she believed 148

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that economic influences had a negligible effect on her. As she put it: I don't think I could handle the stress that you get in the big city. I enjoy the small town life. I enjoy raising my daughter in a rural community, and I know my neighbors. I enjoy that and I wouldn't change that. I don't think anybody should think that would be a real disadvantage. I mean just being Hispanic, you have the stronger family ties and that's important. John, as mentioned earlier, pursued his degree almost as an experiment, and Bennie pursued hers in reaction to negative circumstances but also to show herself that she indeed had the capabilities despite messages to the contrary. All the rest, though, believed economic gain or choice was a motivator, but none felt it was the only one. Two cases in point, Laurie emphasized her desire to "explore", and Ken talked of his burning interest in architecture. Leland's story added one more aspect to the economic influence theme. He shared an observation about a high school work-study program, "where you attend school and work half a day and receive credit and stuff." To him that was a red flag, equating learning on the job skills 149

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one would gain anyway from working, to academic preparation. Later he stated: Right as soon as I graduated (from high school), during that summer, I worked for Colorado Construction, and I wondered why I was putting up steel buildings, which I do want as a side job today, but that kind of opportunity here in Alamosa and the Valley are somewhat limited. If you're planning on staying here in Alamosa, you try to capture the best opportunities. Leland faced the dilemma that maybe all college attendees face, regardless of economic motivation, that of postponing immediate economic gain for later earnings. Virgil mentioned the same dilemma, describing it as conscious choice, especially right after a painful bicycle wreck, because then that was his only affordable transportation. Ken learned it when he took some time off between attendance at Mesa State and University of Colorado. He made money, but the work left a lot to be desired. All the research subjects had learned how to make money right after high school, even above the minimum wage, and that was a tempting route to pursue. Several mention high school peers who did just that, and Bennie, Tammy, and Leland had the added responsibilities of child 150

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raising. It was a lure for them all. Some went straight into college after high school, thus experiencing economic sacrifice right away. Others fiddled with short-term economic gain for a while and later realized a value in postponing the immediate cash for later rewards, economic and otherwise. My contemporaries and I of more economically privileged circumstances did not experience such a need for economic gain. Not having known any significant economic deprivation, we just assumed a degree would entitle us to middle class existence. My main experience with early earning centered on summer jobs that provided spending money at college, and I had no survival expenses to worry about at the time. Later on, as a young adult, I experienced lower paying positions, before becoming a public school teacher, but, in those days, I could survive comfortably. I have never felt a burning need to pursue and equcation or career for mainly economic reasons. Economic gain is a motivator and a tangible sign of success for most Americans, but it is not necessarily the 151

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only product or the only goal. Economic influences provided initial stimulus for degree attainment for a majority of the subjects, but it did not appear to be a primary mover after college. Only Virgil, a banking executive, mentioned it, and then only to indicate that most people do not realize economic opportunities that really do exist in the Valley. Instead another theme rooted in childhood experience became more prevalent than economic gain in the adult lives of the research subjects. As budding or already established leaders, all but one respondent placed considerable value in giving back to the community. Giving Something Back Textural Description The "what happened" or textural aspect of this theme is evident more in what the subjects are doing now or recently in giving something back to the community. Several verbalized their reasons for doing so, thus providing a structural description as well. 152

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None of the subjects, even ones who spoke of experiencing outright prejudice towards Hispanics, have stepped outside of traditional means of giving back to the community. Within the Valley some Hispanic leaders have the label "radicals," denoting a community activist, Anglo confronting type of bias. Instead, the research subjects appeared to be gaining experience and building a foundation for future leadership by working on boards and within organizations. John, one of the youngest subjects, is active in Boy Scouts as a troop leader and volunteers in youth recreation. Another younger interviewee, Laurie, is active in presentations to adolescent girls and organizations within her occupation in the medical field. A third younger subject, Josette, did not speak of any community involvement, possibly because she lives in Antonito where she did not grow up. Among the older subjects, mid to late thirties, several occupy public leadership positions already. Tammy is a school board president and Lisa Marie is a former school board member, now working with adolescent dropouts. Both Bennie and Virgil serve on a number of boards and 153

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committees within the Valley, while Leland is running for his second term as a city councilman. Rob did not mention specific volunteer leadership positions that he has, but his professional position as a public school principal involves plenty of giving back to the community. Structural Description What motivated these individuals to give something back? Was it some noble sense of community service or gratitude towards the community they grew up in? Not necessarily. Lisa Marie expressed sincere disappointment in the Antonito community she grew up, although she served on its school board. John and Laurie appeared to be giving back in areas that are logical extensions of their occupations, teaching and medicine, respectively. Nonetheless, two structural themes do emerge concerning the how and why behind giving something back. One motivating reason lay in family values and in giving back for essentially altruistic reasons. Rob valued the sense of community within each town in the 154

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Valley, and the larger community feeling of the San Luis Valley. He attested: You know everybody in town, you pull a little harder for the people you know, and overall, the Valley, you know you view yourself as a whole, and when you get back to your town, you throw yourself into the part. He also mentioned obligations that come with the trust the community places in its citizens, and, furthermore, the pride communities have in their successful "graduates" like him. With success come obligations. Rob did not mention any family influence on his philosophical basis for giving back, but Tammy and Virgil certainly did, as well as Anna in the pilot study. Tammy spoke of the personal accountability emphasized so much within her family and that included giving back to promote the issues one has value in. Echoing that, Virgil asserted, "So, yes, I consider myself a leader. In all, that was always expected from my mom and dad too. You give back to the community." He mentioned advice he heard from on older man once of the value of giving to the community, because, "if you hurt the community, you 155

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won't be around long." Anna in the pilot study worked with her family on Sunday afternoons volunteering to help others within the community and has been in a variety of community service/activist positions as an adult. In a philosophical variation, Ken and Leland, specifically want to give back to the Hispanic community. Their philosophical, proactive bias is rooted in childhood experiences and is more akin to the other reason for giving back: reaction. Ken and Leland may have initially had resentment towards negative childhood experiences as Valley Hispanics, but they have turned that into a philosophical service orientation that included understanding Anglos also. In contrast, Lisa Marie and Bennie had specific agendas. Lisa Marie had certain concerns with the school system in her community and Bennie zeroed in on how she perceived the Valley treats Hispanic women, a later leadership theme of this phenomenon. After mentioning that she sits on several boards in Monte Vista, she noted, "If I had not gotten my degree, I would still be sitting behind my husband saying, 'Yes, sir.'" 156

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I share the giving back philosophy expressed by the subjects, and, indeed, it is a motivating factor in choosing to study this phenomenon. However, my motivation comes not from having "made it", but more due to the blessings I have received in my life thus far. From my childhood experiences witnessing poverty to benefiting.from a top-flight education to utilizing my current leadership opportunities, I believe strongly in giving back via community service. Some of that comes from loyalty to the Valley and the communities I live in, but I also believe I have an obligation to share my talents and perceptions for the betterment of all. Frankly, the appearance of this theme has increased my admiration for the people in this study. Reactive or proactive reasons for giving back are present among all in the sample, though it may be too soon to determine among the younger ones. More importantly is that the idea of giving back is within almost all of the subjects, and none have so far chosen an activist, confrontative means. Like many, they may not have a long term plan for community leadership, being 157

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more caught up in present day issues, but, whether they realize it or not, giving back will be a later component of leadership credibility. However, despite all of them deciding to lead within established means, they have still wrestled with Valley leadership issues concerning Anglo-Hispanic tensions as well as Hispanic gender ones. Hispanic-Anglo Leadership Textural Description In a valley with about so-so Anglo-Hispanic populations all leaders to an extent have to be leaders of both ethnic groups. All but one subject expressed opinions and shared stories in this area, and structurally three sub themes emerged. Two other themes, issues with Anglo dominance and issues about Hispanic female leadership are appropriately separate from this theme. Anglo dominance issues tended to be from the subjects' growing up years, and Hispanic female leadership issues had little to do with Anglos. Nonetheless, all three themes have to do generally with leadership, thus creating some overlap. 158

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The textural story appears to tie into their current actual leadership experience. Some seem naive, unsure of their leadership abilities, maybe not quite yet believing in their capabilities. Others have been bloodied a bit and expressed a more seasoned outlook. Tammy and Leland most strongly expressed childhood anti-Hispanic experiences, yet both currently have leadership positions in the public eye as a school board president and a city councilman. Leland has certainly not forgotten his past, but he has become politically savvy enough to not dwell on past negative experiences and concentrate on accomplishing political goals. "I had to have the knowledge and opportunity to go ahead and get my homework done and see things and get past information, so I can perceive what further avenues exist," he admitted. Tammy, elected School Board president in her first term, spoke of her frustration on the Board but directed it towards gender discrimination from male Hispanics and some age discrimination concerning an older member. No mention of problems with Anglos, despite her childhood experiences, possibly due to the nature of the 159

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position. A school board president has to be chief spokesperson for the board, a consensus builder, and an effective listener to all sorts of constituents. She must do it rather well; she recently received an award from the Colorado Association of School Boards. Virgil and Rob are both seasoned leaders, being in occupations with leadership titles. Rob used the term "professional" and leadership somewhat interchangeably. He expressed an occupational rather than political viewpoint towards leadership, and he, too, has had to deal with significant Anglo and Hispanic populations. Virgil has led within a private business having to reference profit margin and needing to view all Hispanic and Anglos as consumers first. Nonetheless his parents preached and practiced leadership and community service, which motivated him to be in community leadership positions as well. He spoke of "respect," and tied that into his parents' values. Bennie gained leadership experience on various committees and tended to analyze the differences between Anglos and Hispanics with an eye towards how the 160

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respective ethnic groups can learn from each other. She seemed to have had more experience than the others who are beginning their leadership journey. The others, Laurie, John, Josette, and Ken are younger, budding leaders, and they tended to speak of skills leading to leadership. Case in point, Ken revealed, "I feel I'm working up to being a leader. I'm trying to get people to realize in my culture that if I can do it, they can do it." John dwelt on his seemingly natural abilities to relate to all kinds of people, and Laurie was proud of her developing presentation skills. Lisa Marie did serve on the local school board but is not currently serving in a leadership capacity._ Structural Description Interestingly, within the structural side of the Anglo-Hispanic leadership, no one believed in strict confrontation towards Anglos, and even those expressing some bias that way also offered some accommodation. Likewise nobody ignored their Hispanic heritage in AngloHispanic relations, with the more obliging ones tending 161

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to a redefinition of inter-ethnic leadership issues. Redefinition, in fact, turned out to be the dominant structure for this theme. Rob summarized the redefinition idea quite well: I'm not comfortable with either one of those terms to be honest with you. To confront means to set up with a confrontation, conflict, and all that. To accommodate, you know that's a tough question. I don't feel I need to go either way, kind of not view color as to whether it's a student or a fellow staff member, but try and approach everybody professionally. If I smile at one person, I'll smile to the next, not because it's based on color of the person I smiled at first. Same thing with students. I approach everybody in the same manner. So I guess my leadership hinges around my adjective. I am a firm believer that I deal with professionals on a daily basis. Rob was the only subject to redefine Anglo-Hispanic leadership as professional treatment, but the point here is that he transformed whatever leadership issues exist between Anglos and Hispanics into another concept that, to him, transcended it. Tammy did so also by concentrating more on gender issues, and specifically how Valley Hispanics view Hispanic women. John emphasized respect for individuals, and Leland pointed out the necessity of being true to oneself first, and then prejudice will just roll over 162

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you. Josette, Ken, and Bennie also developed their own redefinitions for this issue. A dominant redefinition, arguably a separate sub theme, was that Anglos and Hispanics are essentially the same. As an example, Rob felt that both groups can be "go getters", and John stated that other ways exist to categorize people such as by their individual behavior. Lisa Marie even said, "I think everybody's the same; we're all people and it's not about accommodations." And Virgil believed that the Golden Rule or respect for others overrode all ethnic differences because we are all pretty much the same. Despite the many statements of redefinition and sameness, a few spoke of confrontation. Ken said, "It's better to confront," while speaking of his family's poverty experiences that he implied had to do with Anglos. Lisa Marie believed that, "Confronting them around the table is placing facts as they are." However neither Ken nor Lisa Marie remained rigidly committed to that; they also made statements promoting sameness and redefinition. 163

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As a prominent leader in a community with a 93% Hispanic population, I experience Hispanic-Anglo leadership issues constantly. I focus my lens on the issues around the cultural differences that I know of or desire to learn more about. The attitude expressed by several subjects of "respect" above all else, works morally and practically for me in most all situations. I have chosen to live in a Hispanic community although I could have commuted from a more culturally mixed town. I realize that I have cultural "blind spots," and in some decisions I will take a moral leadership stance that I feel transcends cultural considerations. However, like the subjects in the study, I have had to and will continue to wrestle with Hispanic-Anglo leadership issues, learning from mistakes, and continuing to evolve. It is a major set of issues within my personal leadership journey. Hispanic-Anglo leadership issues are not formulaic, and they evolve and change in different situations. Valley folks with inflexible positions soon find themselves marginalized because they still have to 164

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get along with their ethnically different neighbors, and, if they choose to lead, they have to lead among both ethnic groups. Towns are too small and the population too sparse for a leader to wear a neon lighted ethnic badge. Still, these leaders, whether seasoned or not, cannot, as Josette said, "forget where you came from." They have had to acknowledge Anglo dominance in some geographical areas of the Valley and within certain political/cultural spheres. Issues with Anglo Dominance Textural Description All sorts of opinions abound within the Valley as to whether Anglos dominate economically and politically, and, if so, to what extent. The research subjects did not dwell on it, but all made reference to it, probably because they grew up with it. It is both a leadership theme and one that impacted choices the subjects made later on. 165

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The growing up experiences provided the textural base, a story of having less power due to ethnicity and poverty. Bennie stated it passionately: We were Hispanic, we were poor, and, unfortunately it hurt me. I didn't join school, I didn't join a whole lot of clubs, sometimes because that was what kids did, so it wasn't cool. Other times you didn't join because they did things and you didn't have money to do things, and you didn't need to be reminded that you didn't have any money, so you didn't do those things. And others because of the color of your skin, you didn't fit in. She went on to compare Monte Vista to Del Norte saying, "but I am sure over there it wasn't an invisible line for them." Hers is a statement of powerlessness; Anglos had the power. Both Tammy and Leland, currently involved in the public schools themselves, dwelt on discrimination within the schools. "I felt that there was a certain population within the classroom that was given a lot more attention and was also given more of an opportunity to learn," said Leland. He apparently went through a complete turn around after an Anglo teacher literally told him he would never amount to much. 166

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Even individuals with milder experiences still acknowledged Anglo advantages. Rob noticed that his Anglo high school friends seemed more in line to take over the family business, and for Virgil his awareness "depend(ed) on the issue." Both Josette and Lisa Marie grew up in Hispanic-dominant communities. Neither may have encountered Anglo dominance issues much before college, and, not surprisingly, Lisa Marie vacillated between resentment and the equality of all. Josette, who had strong family grounding, attributed one's attitudes back to the family. Structural Description A structurally different experience happened for Laurie, John, Rob, and Virgil. None of them implied any resentment towards Anglo power, despite probing questions to elicit that. None joined any Hispanic organizations, and all have set their sights on succeeding, playing by the rules as they are. Laurie felt that she has stepped outside of the role of a Hispanic woman, at least by referencing her mother's experience and has been made to 167

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feel welcome because of Anglo rules. Even while noting that Anglos had advantages in taking over the family business, Rob did not attribute many advantages to Anglos. And John could find no incident in his memory wherein he felt resentment towards Anglo advantages. That was despite the fact that he grew up as one of the poorest in the research sample. When I was in high school, racial riots directed towards whites took place a mere mile from my high school. I saw National Guardsmen patrolling the streets, and the Kroger store in that neighborhood ended up burned down, never to be replaced. And, yet the immediate neighborhood around my all white high school remained unscathed and protected. We had the power, and we stayed protected, but just a little ways away, people were mighty angry at our power and privilege. That left a searing image on my growing up, and I am sensitive to Anglo dominance issues. The theme was quite evident within the interviewing, and I do not believe that it is one I was necessarily searching for, given my own experience with it. 168

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All the subjects have demonstrated their own drive and initiative, but for some it was in part due to reaction to Anglo power within the Valley. For others, that reality was less important, and they forged an identity on different criteria such as familial reference, or organizational sources, like succeeding as a principal or businessman. Anglo power was a driver for some, and a peripheral issue for others. But it was always there. A working poor Valley Hispanic has to acknowledge it and deal with it as a part of striving towards success. Issues for Hispanic Women Textural Description Only one question within the interviews specifically addressed any issue about Hispanic females, and it concerned their ability to stay in college while meeting other family responsibilities, frequently required of women and not men. However, a bit unexpectedly, the female interviewees expressed additional perspectives about Hispanic women and leadership as well as college 169

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attendance. Furthermore, several males had strong females whoeither modeled or promoted college attendance to them. Tammy, Bennie, and Lisa Marie experienced outright hostility about their college attendance decisions in all three cases from now former husbands. Lisa Marie started college in a promising way with some scholarships, completed three years, yet could not finish due, in part, to negative pressure from her husband: The marriage again in Hispanic culture is a very jealous culture at times. I had gone through three years of college ... at the time I got married I needed some requirements. We were poor, we didn't have the money for class, and you're not going there and those kinds of issues, so I didn't. Until I got divorced, that's when I went back and got my B.A. and went on with my Masters. Lisa Marie did not reveal her financial situation after the divorce, but she did complete her Masters at least as a single mother. The key words in the quotation are "jealous culture" and "you're not going there," indicating a lack of spousal approval. Bennie left no doubt she had to fight negative approval from both her husband and her mother in deciding to attend college. Her mother believed that, "it wasn't 170

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that important for girls to know how to do anything but cook and clean." She later complained bitterly of both her mother and husband laying guilt on her regarding her child raising responsibilities while she attended college. Attaining a college degree for her was, in part, a means of defying hostile messages from two important loved ones. Tammy also received a lack of approval from her first husband about college attendance, and she finally began attending Adams State College only after separating from him. There she met a man, now her husband, whose siblings'had all graduated from college and who was himself quite supportive of her quest. Laurie and Josette did not have to fight battles with husbands to attend college, but perceived female Hispanic roles also impacted them. Laurie's mother, whom Laurie felt assumed a traditional., deferential role, modeled boundaries inherent in her position that offered security but limited experience. Josette's mother worked at a job outside the home, which was different than all the other females interviewed. Josette was the only female interviewee who felt some pressure to attend 171

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college from her immediate family, with her mother being the pushier parent. Ironically, almost all the male subjects experienced strong messages from women to attend college and succeed later. Only Rob had a stronger male influence, his father, and Rob now acknowledges his dad took "an easier approach" with his sisters. John gave his mother, the only parent in his household, some credit for his success decisions as well as a female P.E. teacher setting up useful career exposure for him. In Ken's family, his older sister was the first to attend and graduate college, which is when his father took on an extra job for the expenses. Both Virgil and Leland had especially strong influences from women. Virgil related an anecdote of his mother metaphorically holding his feet to the fire by requiring a full pail of milk from a reluctant cow, and he had to keep going back until he filled it. His mother was the one who sat him down to.do homework and conducted ongoing conversations about where he was going to college and what he was going to study. Not surprisingly, she 172

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has evolved into a community and church leader within present day Conejos County. Leland might not have ever gone to college without the push from his future mother in law, his Aunt Connie, and a female counselor in high school. While he mentioned supportive male teachers in high school and college, they did not have quite the impact of the above females. Although only the women within the study brought up gender issues with minimal prompting, such issues impacted all the subjects. Except for Josette, all the females in the study had to forge a degreed, leadership identity contrary to the model they grew up with. Except for Rob, all the males had significant females promoting their college attendance and later success. Structural Description Structurally, two tendencies led to their experiences. Several had mothers who lived "traditional" roles for Hispanic women, defined by the research subjects as deferential to the husband and with primarily homemaking roles. That's not to say that Rob, Tammy, 173

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Lisa Marie, Laurie, and Bennie had subservient, powerless mothers, but their moms did stay within that role, and their daughters made different choices as young adults. Outside the perception of "traditional" female Hispanics, Virgil and Josette had mothers who pushed them more, and who, interestingly, also worked outside the home. John's mother was his only parent, although he and Ken had significant influence from college-educated females. Leland's grandparents raised him, and his influential mother-in-law was a degreed Anglo. Of all the themes in the data analysis, I have the least amount of experience with female Hispanic leadership issues. My predecessors in my previous and current leadership positions were Hispanic females, but the two leaders I currently supervise are Hispanic males. Part of my job is to cultivate and bring along potential leaders, and I believe that I should bring along both genders with no particular obligation to one or the other. I want the educational community to have effective leadership, regardless of gender, and I fully 174

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support the changes that the female subjects made to become leaders. The significant women in most of the subjects' lives either modeled or promoted education, but the female subjects still had to step out of the role model these same women presented to them. The study's Hispanic women had an extra hurdle in making different choices than their mothers or, in some cases, their husbands expected. Higher Education and Leadership Textural Description A final theme, the effects of higher education on leadership, brings together the subjects' experiences with pursuing a college degree and later success as beginning leaders. All the interviewees understood a personal value regarding degree attainment and its impact on leadership behavior, while two structural sub themes bolstered those values. Every one of the subjects believed that a college degree has enhanced their lives in leadership and career choices. Quite a few mention specific skills they 175

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acquired that they now apply to leadership pehavior. The primary one was in being able to listen and analyze more effectively while gathering information or in making decisions. Ken spoke of learning about other cultures while remaining grounded within his own. He stated: The C.U. (University of Colorado) experience introduced to me different cultures from around the world, not just the states; I was able to learn what these people are saying and thinking, and they got to learn the same thing about me. As Leland discovered that a Hispanic centric viewpoint limited his effectiveness on city council, he utilized his college experiences to understand Anglo opinions for the good of the entire community. Bennie and Rob related similar enhancements to their lives. Others, Laurie and Virgil, spoke of skills and confidence in presenting information, another leadership necessity, while Virgil credited negotiation skills also from his college experience. Structural Description Skill identification was the closest anyone got to acknowledging any particular knowledge gained from having 176

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a degree, and, as such, it constitutes a structural aspect to this theme. Three participants talked of another one, the "instant respect" as John put it that comes with having a degree. He, Josette, and Ken pointed out that a degree is a badge of intelligence that opens doors to leadership and can even be the reason a person becomes a leader. In other words, just having a degree brings immediate leadership consideration. Both Josette and Ken also mentioned that plenty of other "smart" people did not have degrees and are possibly cast aside because they do not. Tammy best articulated how a college degree widened her thinking, thus enhancing her leadership: It makes you more knowledgeable of things going on. It makes you more articulate, it makes you aware of things that are out there. I feel that at least you're aware of what's going on whether if it's music, if it's art, or even from taking history. I think to be a leader, you can't just be narrow minded. You have to be open minded to be a good listener, to be objective, to be open to making a judgement. And I took classes where I'd think, "I hate these classes. Why do I have to take music? Then I look back now, and I see so much growth. For Tammy and the other subjects, a degree broadened their outlooks and directly their later leadership. 177

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Like the research subjects, I attribute a college degree as necessary to my leadership, not only for the skills I have developed and the respect it gives, but also for the ongoing understandings that background gives to my leadership journey. The difference I have with the subjects' experiences is that I am older, and, frankly, more experienced with leadership in general than them. In addition, the type of higher education I received, with its strong liberal arts emphasis, added a wide-angle lens to my leadership style and beliefs, and to me that is the main advantage of a college degree to my individual leadership experience. The other subjects may indeed have had this understanding of a degree bringing some instant respect, but none of the interviewees said they aspired to a degree for that reason. Whether they centered on the leadership skill acquisition or the instant respect idea, they are all looking back in hindsight and may later have other realizations of the value of a degree to leadership. They all realize that a college degree has countered tendencies to just be a "poverty" leader or a 178

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Hispanic leader or a single parent leader. A college degree has enhanced their abilities to lead in a wider context, understanding issues that are larger than their individual circumstances. A degree was necessary to their later leadership. 179

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CHAPTER 7 ESSENCE OF PHENOMENON, DISCUSSION OF IMPLICATIONS, RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS, AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY Essence of Phenomenon With its frigid climate, remoteness, and economic scarcity, the Valley has a vital ethos of survival. Getting by with another load of wood, bartering a favor, or greeting a prince or a pauper on the street are all means to get by. "Getting by" creates its own inertia, a traditional way of going about one's own business, and a way reluctantly altered. And the surrounding land is always a means, an option for continued existence: on occasion i will come up here to face the wind to see a valley spotted with adobe birthmarks their walls sacrificed to the cold blink of time but the.spirits of the hands that built them long_ago i sense that they remain that they live in the soft skin and fresh eyes of new generations (Abeyta, 2000, p. 12) More than getting by, the Valley's Hispano culture has flourished behind the mountain walls, living 180

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culturally so much longer than other Spanish descendents called Californios or the Tejanos in the Rio Grande Valley (Nostrand, 1992). Its customs and traditions have shaped its Hispano and Anglo residents, in leadership and educational expectations, in risk taking and change, in personal and societal values, and still in the best ways to get by. The essence of this phenomenon is existential change among individuals both challenging and building upon the Valley's way of life. Their changes have potential to transform the Valley, while hopefully building on its strengths and challenging its inertia, its getting by. The first change, a gift from a significant person(s), created a strong push towards a college degree. This was the initial challenge to merely getting by. As the challenge became a goal, the budding leaders skirted obstacles and turned away from easier jobs that allowed for easy survival and its simple means. They learned personal accountability and sacrifice and how to live with putting off immediate gain in return for a promising future. They began countering the inertia. 181

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Getting by in poverty was not good enough, and the way to end that was not by purchasing another lottery ticket or working another low paying job. Striving for a degree was another way to keep an eye on the economic prize, a tangible sign of transforming one's self. Self-change did not mean turning away from family, community, and the Valley. Giving back to the community also signaled a change and a value in where one comes from. Giving back to the community remains a way to learn leadership and is another way to be accountable. Learning leadership has other responsibilities as well. Hispanic-Anglo issues, Anglo dominance issues, Hispanic gender issues all create choices or challenges to local values. Young Hispanic Valley leaders have to choose whether to confront or accommodate Anglos or to transcend those issues with another way. Do they work with Anglos from a position of power or strength, or do they operate from the perspective of separation and cultural difference? Female Hispanic leaders have special issues to confront, pursuing different goals than their mothers, with or without their tacit support. And 182

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always there is the poverty, the getting by, that runs counter to striving, to pursuing just a little more. But it all comes back around. A degree brings enlightenment, a broader understanding of the world and its cultures outside the Valley. It enhances leadership. I Most of the subjects experimented with the country beyond the mountains, and they chose to return. As products of the Valley's culture(s), they have lived its strengths as well as its inertia. Their existential transformations will lead to change in the Valley. Getting by is merely a means to survive but not to flourish. The Valley will thrive with its own well-educated Hispanic leaders. They are its future and its hope. i am here where the faces become a two lane road one whispers east to the testimonial light of new day the other tugs me west toward the dying red sun of our past (Abeyta, 2000, p. 19) Discussion of Implications This research is a story of individual transformations that are now benefiting the Valley 183

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community. My purpose for examining this phenomenon is to assist in maximizing it within the Valley. Hence, the context of this discussion remains in the value of the findings in relation to assisting Valley Hispanics and the wider community. Valley organizations and agencies like Mi Esperanza and Talent Search exist to provide mentoring and encouragement to children and young adults who might not otherwise move towards college degree attainment. Coupled with ancillary efforts by public school counselors and youth clubs, quite a number of organized efforts attempt to impact choice options for Valley youth, Hispanic and otherwise. Yet this research implies that the really important individuals-parents, siblings, relatives, and significant individuals at a crucial time -also have a tremendous impact on choosing a college attainment goal. Such individuals provided external values for the subjects to learn and later internalize as a strong goal setting value to persevere through the inevitable potholes and minefields in their pursuit of a degree. Therefore, one implication from the research is 184

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that organized efforts to motivate Valley youth to selfimprovement should also center on people who have this kind of impact due to their close, likely familial relationship with the individuals. Admittedly such efforts will likely miss future in-laws or friends' parents, as two research subjects experienced, but the extended family of Hispanic families can be a rich source of motivation. Organizations devoted to helping Hispanics should not be strictly self-help outfits, ignoring the very tangible help coming from the strong family culture among Valley Hispanics. After all, college attendance and degree attainment for the research subjects was life changing, running counter to surrounding values and models, even those provided by the immediate family. Without question immediate and extended family members can have tremendous credibility. Further, school personnel, who already model professional success, can reinforce the value of higher education to Valley Hispanics previously learning that from their families. In some cases, school staff members may be the most 185

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important individuals impacting young people's decisions to attend college, but they have the power to crush budding dreams as well. Research respondents related both altruistic and self-serving motivations. Although none of the subjects believed in instantaneous riches via degree attainment, they generally viewed a baccalaureate as a means to economic improvement over what they grew up with, albeit over time. But the other element at work here is a desire for meaningful work and career, very likely involving giving back to the community. Working poor Valley Hispanics have to believe they can have both: economic improvement and meaningful work. Efforts to improve the lot of the Valley's Hispanic community ought to center unabashedly on both dreams. "Dreams" was a term many subjects referred to in their interviews. Hispanic women apparently undergo special hurdles towards self-improvement. Indeed, they may receive rather powerful messages about not violating an expected role or set of behaviors. Can ambitious Hispanic women gain necessary tools for change from a Hispano centric 186

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viewpoint or one more obviously feminist? The answer may have to come from trial and error or individual circumstance, but entities devoted to improving the Hispanic community should address their exceptional needs. In fact, the intensity of responses from the female subjects points to possibly separating out some improvement efforts as exclusive for women. A number of role models are already out there, and ambitious female Hispanics may very well need the camaraderie and support of others making more difficult choices than their male counterparts. As an Anglo in the Valley, I am tempted to embrace the idea that all folks are essentially the same, Anglo and Hispanic alike. In many situations, that viewpoint is useful, but not for all, and budding Hispanic leaders should be cognizant that Anglo-Hispanic power issues will inevitably arise. Really, they should be more than merely mindful; they have choices to make in that realm. Several respondents told stories of outright prejudice and discrimination either from Anglos or the "system." Their choice lay in what they did with those experiences. 187

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They could have turned to rage or some sort of reverse prejudice towards Anglos. Hispano centric leadership ways do exist (Martinez, 1999), yet all the subjects chose more mainstream or culturally integrated leadership pathways. That may very well have maximized their leadership success so far, while bringing their desired returns of goal fulfillment, giving back to the community, and economic improvement. Young Hispanic leaders have to realize their choices and pathways, and I hope they choose to lead within all Valley cultures. Their wider success, I believe, will benefit many more. Lastly, the Valley's Anglo culture can gain from the research findings. A very valuable aspect to phenomenological research is the requirement for the researcher to acknowledge and share her/his experience and viewpoint about the phenomenon. Despite my years in the Valley, much of my perspective is Anglo centric, yet by learning about the phenomenon my outlook has subtly changed. Instead of plowing ahead with leadership decisions or corning to what appear to be obvious conclusions, I now have additional wisdom about what 188

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fellow Hispanic citizens need to attain their dreams. My fellow Anglo citizens can learn about the same dreams. Recommendations for Further Study An exploratory study naturally creates new horizons and raises questions as to what is just beyond the next hill. For example, do the major findings from this study extend to similar sociological realms like rural southeastern Colorado or northern New Mexico? Or do aspects of this phenomenon transcend geographical boundaries and apply to most rural Hispanics? An in depth study of a fairly small sample raises curiosity about its generalizability. The study also brings questions of a temporal nature. The research subjects were in their thirties, relating some experiences from more than a decade earlier. Nowadays, are young working poor Valley Hispanics still experiencing the same or similar aspects of the phenomenon? Research about college degree attainment and goal setting behavior among individuals currently in their late teens or early twenties can flesh 189

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out the stories reported in this study. And assuming these subjects continue on leadership pathways, a study of the same or similar individuals ten years hence may tell the rest of the story. Any one of the identified themes creates potential for further research. The structural descriptions, the "how" of the phenomenon, are, by necessity, what happened to these selected individuals. For instance, what about those who chose a different, possibly more Hispanic centric or feminist means towards leadership? Did some experience different types of individuals impacting their college attendance decisions, and what are the stories for those who attained early success with no assistance from significant people? Some subjects, like Leland and Bennie, seemed to have experienced "breakthroughs" or sudden turns possibly akin to recent theories tied to brain research and leadership. Perkins (2000) describes a fivefold structure that emphasizes the importance of precipitating events, after a long period of searching that lead to sudden breakthroughs that change one's world in both 190

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thinking and action. That is outside of the sociological context of this study, but, nonetheless, creates another perspective on the phenomenon. Another value from this study is that, hopefully, it creates a slew of questions about findings and even conclusions, thus creating a need for further study about a beneficial phenomenon. Significance of the Study If a visitor embarks on a "textural" journey through the San Luis Valley, he or she will be awe struck by nature's beauty side by side with, at times, grinding poverty. A view of a dirt town street, framed by houses bent with age and extreme climate fluctuations and with the iridescent glow of Culebra Peak in the backdrop, captures the essence of living in the Valley. Somehow the houses still stand, they remain homes, and the street will be paved someday. Leaders, very likely Hispanic leaders, will pave that street. They will mingle their college educated world outlook with their Valley heritage and begin bringing community hopes to fruition. They will lead all 191

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citizens and Valley cultures, accountable to their dreams and their neighbors. Culebra Peak will be there forever, impervious to the human bustling below it. It remains a symbol of the Valley's limits and its continuity, as each day Valley citizens awake to work towards better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. Catching the essence of their striving has been the meaning and purpose for this research. I cannot relive people's actual experiences. However, with diligent and specific description of their self-reported experiences, I believe I have captured the essence of their perseverance and success. Their stories, their self-doubts, their triumphs, their backgrounds, their meanings all blend into the description of success for the Valley's working poor Hispanics. That is this study's gift, and theirs, to the Valley community. 192

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CHAPTER 8 POSTLUDE AS PROLOGUE Sometimes we called her "Gertie," a diminutive name in our eyes, because her given name, Gertrude, seemed a bit more regal, and the teachers all called her that. Nonetheless, she seemed to enjoy it some, because in early adolescence we would say it with an awkward smile or chuckle, an acknowledgement at least. It was better than the social rejection or cruel taunts and teasing of earlier years at our elementary school. We had associated her with body odor, lice in her hair, cheap hand me down clothing, and always, always the lowest reading group. While we read out loud with expression and phrasing as early as first grade, she and other children from Miami Grove and Tower Hill read one word at a time, quite mystified by many of them, until coached by a teacher concerned about a fidgety class. Gertrude attended my elementary school wherein ninety percent of the students came from well-to-do, 193

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sometimes wealthy Anglo homes in a suburb near Cincinnati, Ohio. But roughly ten per cent of the children lived with deep poverty circumstances down by the Little Miami River in old cottages on stilts. The stilts at least kept their homes above water when the river flooded every few years, but not their cars, or the rusted appliances in the weeds below the dwellings. Their presence at the elementary school was my earliest and most important encounter with people in poverty. One day, when I was in first grade, my mother sent a lunch with me in my new Robin Hood lunchbox because she would not be home at noontime to prepare my lunch as usual. Sometime that morning another child reported to the teacher that a lunchbox was open and its contents gone. Soon the teacher figured out that a little girl from Miami Grove, a "Grover," had eaten my lunch. Somehow I realized that this other student had taken my lunch because she was hungry, not because she was a natural thief. Ironically, at lunchtime, the only African-American child in our school, also from economically challenging circumstances, shared his lunch 194

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with me, and it was every bit as good as what my mother had packed. Now decades later, I remember the little girl had lots of cavities in her teeth and stringy brown hair and she was thin. I do not recall ever socializing with these children, although my sisters did some, but neither do I remember being cruel to them like others were. I believe that early on I sensed something amiss and even wrong in the way these children started out. The "Grovers," whom the adults would call "hillbillies," apparently did not follow us on to high school as I do not remember them attending. I do not know if any of them became strivers, going on to college or if they even benefited from the award winning public schools I attended. Maybe some obtained choice manufacturing jobs at General Electric or auto assembly lines in Cincinnati. Few would have returned to the Kentucky and West Virginia hills, because little economy existed there, and the "hillbilly" community offered at least like-mindedness and some economic opportunities even without much education. 195

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My childhood realization that some people start out with disadvantages because of labels and economic circumstances now deeply affects my direction and purpose in researching poverty in the San Luis Valley. Unlike Appalachian whites, Valley Hispanics have lived in the Valley for generations, and most get by and even flourish within the rural economy. From my research I know that some felt discrimination within the schools, and their economic circumstances growing up rivaled the vicissitudes that children in my elementary school experienced. And logically, I know that not all poverty is what I witnessed and dealt with as a child. Yet I feel I should right the wrong and change the circumstances. I should try and end the cycle and maximize educational and economic opportunity. I must share my lunch. Some time during my junior high years, the "Grovers" left their houses on stilts, probably due to so many floods. Ironically the area is now a nature walk park developed by the town for bird watching and fall colors. A few weathered posts still stand as reminders in the 196

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river bottom weeds. As I grew into adolescence, I forgot about "Grovers" some, except when driving by housing projects by Union Terminal or the wooden tenements under the overpasses on Columbia Parkway. My world centered on my middle class, all white high school, paradoxically only a mile or two from one of Cincinnati's AfricanAmerican sections. Later during my junior year in high school, my father and I traveled to Geneva Lakes, New York, to interview at Hobart College. In my household, scholarships, financial aid, or loans did not have to be part of the formula. My only personal dilemmas concerned which colleges would accept me, and which one of those I would settle on. Our trip to Hobart reflected the seriousness of my choice as well as my parents' investment; all three children later graduated from private colleges. We ate at nice restaurants, got the college tour and interview, and I savored the choices of attending college in a whole new environment, a steppingstone to an enlightening future. Soon after I decided to attend Colorado College, a highly selective institution, 197

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right where I wanted to live, and with the extra curricular attributes I was seeking. Indeed, thanks to my family and its income, I had marvelous choices. I accomplished a lot there, in addition to graduating "on time," and that remains a source of genuine personal pride. Both of my parents have college degrees, and my father even earned a Masters Degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Within my parents' household, the idea of a child not attending college was unfathomable. In my case, non-attendance would have also meant being drafted into the armed services during the Vietnam War, a scenario I certainly did not seek. Because both my grandfather and father had received degrees from Ivy League schools, I remember pressure to attend a college with some selectivity and prestige. Receiving a high school diploma had little significance for me, as it was merely a way station towards the degree I was expected to attain. I did not tie a degree into economic survival or as an accomplishment to honor my family. My family had the means to send me to any 198

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college that accepted me with room, board, and tuition paid. However, even now, I harbor some small lingering doubts because I did not attend an Ivy League school, and I regret not assuming some high school leadership roles or maintaining high grades in math and science to assure entry into Dartmouth, my grandfather's alma mater. Nonetheless, I graduated from a prestigious and academically elite private institution in the Rocky Mountain region. Had I attended a public university in Ohio, or Adams State College in Alamosa, my parents would have been disappointed. How to get in, how to pay for it, how to complete it were not dilemmas that I had to face. Moreover, my whole community expected its youth (except for "Grovers") to go on to college. I remember feeling shocked when I discovered at my tenth year high school reunion that several close friends from high school had dropped out of college and never completed their degrees. Because I had such an easy pathway to college, with all possible help when needed, I hope for everyone to have that experience. 199

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I am naive about difficulties in obtaining a degree because of my family circumstances and suburban expectations. And because the subjects in this study followed a profoundly different way to a degree, I have a rather open-minded curiosity as to how they did it. Indeed, their way contrasts so much with my experience, I believe the study will be a vehicle for cultural realizations that I may not currently have. One of the subjects in the study, John, spoke of the instant respect that comes from a degree. I believe a degree also gave me an added push towards leadership, though it was a while in coming. Most of my leadership experience has been in a rural setting, where I have been a leader of and with Valley Hispanics. However, I did not grow up in the San Luis Valley, nor the other more Anglo small towns I have lived in as an adult. I mention that because it does exclude me from certain information and relationships I might have had growing up in the community. The leaders in this study "know" their environment in ways I never can, 200

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just as they might feel out of place in the Anglo well to do community I came from. "Outsider" leadership, though, has its own lens. In my twenties, while living and teaching in Salida, Colorado, I was on a board for the local agency that trained and employed developmentally disabled adults. Leading with my intellect, I was able to move discussions in certain directions, and I could hold my own with older, more experienced adults. Maybe my youth or outsider status afforded a degree of tolerance, but from these early experiences I learned how to impact group decisions without difficulty. I have had similar success since with ethnically and gender mixed groups, leading me to believe that leadership elements are primarily the same across cultural differences. Hence, I view my "outsider" leadership and the "insider" leadership of my interviewees as two sides of the same coin, not as contrasting styles of opposites. Interestingly, although my college bound experiences and encounters with poverty are very different than theirs, much of my leadership experience grew from the Valley 201

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also. In some situations, I, too, have had to defuse sudden or lingering tension between Anglos and Hispanics. None of the interviewees had a black and white response to the idea of either confronting or accommodating Anglos. Rather, they reframed that aspect, usually placing emphasis on "respect" or "professionalism", acknowledging the potential for disagreement between cultures, but providing a means for transcendence. I attempt to transcend with similar reframing, as I joke a bit about my "gringo" ways. What I still have difficulty understanding, though, are the internal squabbles among groups within the Hispanic community I live and work in. However, I am not inclined to believe that is part of their ethnicity, as it exists in many small towns. I believe the disputes I deal with come from the community being so poor, and the residents fighting over slivers of a small economic .pie. Like the subjects of this study, I ground myself in the larger Valley community with professional and acquaintance connections from Saguache to San Luis. Like the Hispanic leaders I have been researching, I utilize 202

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memberships on boards and committees as well as interpersonal skills to lead and influence, hopefully, for the greater good. Like me, none of these individuals followed an activist pathway outside of Valley leadership norms, although they traveled different routes within those parameters. And, like me, they have channeled their discontent with aspects of American culture into leadership dedicated to change, nibbling some here and there, or becoming a player within broader efforts. I realized some of my dreams from privilege and circumstance and God given talents. With that, comes an obligation to respect and embrace the pathways of other Valley leaders and to give back, whether to my birth community or my aqopted one. That is the essence and value of my experience with the phenomenon. 203

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APPENDIX A. RESEARCH SUBJECTS 1. Ken: He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and owns a gas station/convenience store in a Valley town. A beginning leader, he has worked as an organizer and leader within several town entities. 2. John: He attended a church affiliated college in Oklahoma and later graduated from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a public school teacher, and is an active leader among youth organizations including Boy Scouts and youth recreation. 3. Leland: He is a public school teacher and a graduate of Adams State College. He has been on the city council in Alamosa and recently contemplated running for the school board. 4. Virgil: He is a graduate of Colorado State University and works as a bank vice president. He is on numerous boards and in many organizations throughout the Valley. His wife began and heads a successful day care center in Conejos County. 204

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5. Rob: He has a B.S. from Adams State College and would have to have a Masters degree, in order to be the public school principal he is now. His leadership experience is associated with the many leadership a school principal has to assume. 6. Josette: She is a graduate of Adams State College and is now in a beginning management position within a public entity. She has been involved in several Valley organizations but is now taking a bit of a break from that while concentrating on raising young children. 7. Laurie: Laurie is a graduate of Colorado State University and received her Physicians Assistant license from the University of Colorado. She works as a Physicians Assistant and is involved in leading efforts to educate Valley adolescents in health education. 8. Lisa Marie: Lisa Marie graduated with a B.S. from Adams State College and later earned a Masters Degree from Eastern Oregon State University. She 205

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runs an alternative school for expelled students in the Valley and is a former School Board member. 9. Tammy: Tammy received her degree from Adams State College and currently works with Talent Search, an agency recruiting promising minority and poverty level high school students for college. She is a school board president also. 10. Benny: She is an Adams State College graduate and works as a middle level accountant. She is on numerous boards in her town within the Valley. 206

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APPENDIX B INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Demographic/Background information 1. What is your birth date? 2. Where were you born? 3. What elementary, middle, and high schools did you attend, and where are they located? 4. What college(s} did you attend, when did you attend, where is it located, and what years did you attend? 5. What is the highest degree you have attained? 6. What is your current occupation? 7. Do you consider yourself Hispanic? (Horner, 1997} 8. Did you grow up in the Valley, or did you also live elsewhere? 9. Do you know how many generations back your family has lived in the Valley or nearby? (Nostrand, 1992} 207

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Family and Ethnic Influences 10. How much formal education did your respective parents attain? (Young, 1967) 11. Which parent had more influence on your valuing higher education? (Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Conklin & Dailey, 1981; Davies & Kandel, 1981; Del Castillo et. al., 1988; Elliot, 1987; Hossler & Stage, 1989; Gandara, 1995; Lowe & Pinhoy, 1980; Watt, 1987) 12. Did your parents or other members of your family prod you to go to college because you appeared to be the brightest of the children? (Brantlinger, 1985; Fitchen, 1995) 13. Was your extended family helpful in obtaining resources for you when you sought a college degree and afterwards? (Huang & Howley, 1991; Lichter et.al., 1993) 14. I am going to read a statement to you that a person said about the future. I would like you to comment about whether this applied to you while growing up within your family: Our eyes are set a little above what we have now, but not as high as what we would like ideally. We aim for something a little better than what we have, but not that much better. then, if we can't achieve our hopes, it's not a great disappointment. You have to learn to try for a happy medium (Fitchen, 1995, p. 193) 15. Did you experience family pressure or expectation to stay close to home? Do you think your Anglo friends experienced the same expectation? (Brown, Dornbusch, & Steinberg, 1992; Gandara, 1982; Marin & Marin, 1991) 208

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Leadership 16. Do you aspire to being a Valley leader, and, if so, do you feel that an effective leader needs to accommodate Anglos more, or confront them more? (Garcia & De La Garcia, 1977; Gutierrez, Parra, & Rios, 1979; Martinez, 1999) 17. How has higher education been an asset or not to your leadership or potential for it? (Garcia & de la Garcia, 1977; Martinez, 1999) Rural and Economic Influences 18. Did you feel a dilemma as to whether to stay in the Valley or seek better economic/social opportunities elsewhere? (Carmichael, 1982; Dillman & Tremblay, 1977; Duncan, 1992; Gibbs, 1995 & 1998; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Hull, 1994) 19. Because you chose to stay in the Valley after degree attainment as an adult, I will ask you about possible influences that led to your decision. Please add any other influence that you feel I have overlooked. a) Did the natural surroundings help keep you here or lure you back? (Donaldson, 1976 & 1986; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Overton & Reese, 1977) b) Did loyalty to the community, the Valley, or family keep you here? (Brown, Dornbusch, & Steinberg, 1992; Haas, 1992; Peshkin, 1978; Trainor, 1993) 209

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c) Did you feel the Valley is a better place to raise children? (Armstrong, 1993; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Kay, 1982; Robertson & Robertson, 1978) 20. Did you aspire to the type of career that is generally available in .the Valley, and did that influence your college attendance decisions and later occupation? (Crihfield, 1991; Deavers & Brown, 1985; DeYoung, 1993; Huang & Howley, 1991; Van Hook, 1993) 21. Do you believe that a college education challenges the context of the Valley and its expectations of youth? (Donaldson, 1976 & 1986) Quest for.a College Degree 22. What were the most important reasons in your decision to attend college? I am going to identify some possible reasons that you had for deciding to attend college. I would like for you to give me an idea of how important or not these reasons were. a) Did the academic experiences and extra curricular experiences of a small high school create a desire to go to college? (Alva, 1991; Astin, 1982; Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Baird, 1969; Ballesteros, 1986; Romo & Falbo, 1996; Gandara, 1995; Green & Stevens, 1988; Gump, 1978; Horn, 1990; Knisley, 1992) b) Did local community values promote college attendance? (Armstrong, 1993; 210

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Edington, 1976; Hutto, 1989; Peshkin, 1978) c) Did your high school peers promote college attendance? (Green & Stevens, 1988) d) Did your high school teachers promote college attendance? (Charles, 1969; Edington, 1976) e) If you attended Adams State, did its attention to its significant Hispanic enrollment affect your decision? (Lerner & Nagai, 1997) f) Did the promise of financial aid or a scholarship impact your decision to go to college or to which one you chose? (Mortenson & Wu, 1990; Munoz, 1986) g) Did you have a mentor, a non-related adult, who mentored your desire to attend college? (Gandara, 1995) h) Did you have role models, individuals whom you admired and wished to emulate, who inspired you to attend college? These would be individuals who you did not know well or maybe did not know at all. (Gandara, 1995) i) Did the generally low wage scale here convince you that a college degree was a means to achieve a better income, thus providing another reason to earn a degree? (Carmichael, 1982; Dillman & Tremblay, 1977; Duncan, 1992; Gibbs, 1995 & 1998; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994) 211

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23. What influences tended to keep you in college, ultimately attaining a degree? Again I will identify some possible influences that may have helped keep you in college. a) Did you have a desire to repay the community for its confidence and investment in you? (Armstrong, 1993; Hedlund & Vollmer, 1994; Kay, 1982; Peshkin, 1978; Robertson & Robertson, 1978) b) Did you successfully go through a period of adjustment to college life that contrasted with the circumstances you grew up in? Did your ethnicity or your rural background impact this adjustment period? (Alva, 1991; Alva & Padilla, 1995; Arellano & Padilla, 1996; Attinasi, 1989; Carter, 1970; Chavez, 1986; Delgado-Gaitan, 1992; Romo & Falbo, 1996; Gandara, 1995; Hoffer, 1988; Sewell & Shah, 1967) c) Did you live on campus without an outside job? If so, did that help you stay in school (Astin, 1982) d) Did your writing skills help you stay in college? (Astin & Burciaga, 1981) e) Did a hard work ethic impact your staying in college? (Gandara, 1995) f) If you attended a high school with half or more Anglo enrollment, do you feel that had some impact on your ability to stay in college? (Del Castillo et. al., 1988; Gandara, 1995) 212

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g) Did you have more family responsibilities that interfered with your college education because you are a woman? Did postponing marriage and having children help you in achieving your post secondary goals? (Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Chacon, Cohen, & Strover, 1986; Del Castillo et. al., 1988; Gandara, 1982 & 1995; Gutierrez, 1981; Munoz, 1986; Olivas, 1986) h) Did growing up in economically poorer circumstances have a positive or negative effect on your staying in school, or did it have no effect at all? (Arellano & Padilla, 1996; Astin, 1982; Astin & Burciaga, 1981; Chacon, Cohen, & Strover, 1986; Del Castillo et. al., 1988 213

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