Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Sandra Guzman Foster


LuElla D'Amico


Lucretia Fraga


Research Focus. This research aims to explore the experiences of Latina mothers residing in San Antonio, Texas, using testimonios as a form of data collection; asynchronous interviews were completed to obtain the participants' experiences as they journeyed through their respective doctoral programs. Through this qualitative study, the research provided an in-depth analysis to understand the relationship between motherhood, academia, and culture in relation to advanced degrees. In this study, LatCrit served as the leading theoretical framework, allowing the researcher to understand the obstacles the participants underwent not only as doctoral students but also as the other critical roles in their lives. This research exposes a gap in the literature that needs to explore Latina mothers' experiences in higher education. San Antonio women are least likely to earn a bachelor's degree or higher as compared to its neighboring cities; not only is there a difference in degree attainment amongst cities but also within racial and ethnic groups in San Antonio. A 2019 report generated by Saenz and Casura (2019) showed that 16.4% of Latina women 25 years and older hold a bachelor's degree or higher, while 43.1% of white women, 26.5 Black women, and 47% of Black women possess a bachelors degree or higher. Thus making this population the least advanced degreed population in the United States, which is why the need for this study is essential.

Research Methods. A qualitative study was administered using Latina Critical Race Theory (LatCrit). LatCrit is an extension of Critical Race Theory (CRT) which acknowledges the issues that focus specifically on the events that unfold for the Latino community due to issues based on immigration status, language, culture, ethnicity, and phenotype (Solórzano & Delgado Bernal, 2001). Eight participants were selected to participate in this study and answer a series of questions based on their experiences in their respective doctoral programs, family, and personal life. Due to COVID-19, interviews were administered one-on-one using the online technology known as Flipgrid to create an environment where the participants feel comfortable speaking up and discussing their experiences, along with staying safe in conjunction with CDC protocols. Interview recordings and transcripts were downloaded from FlipGrid and placed in designated folders. Videos and transcripts were reviewed to ensure accuracy between the transcripts and the story told by the testimonialistas. A simple approach was used to develop themes across the eight testimonios explored in this inquiry. The specific methods involved a two-stage analysis using a within-case analysis followed by a cross-case analysis.

Research Results/Findings.

A careful review of the data from all eight cases revealed several themes and subthemes. The 8 testimonialistas voluntarily applied to doctoral studies for their advancement and personal fulfillment, with all but one participant being a mother before applying to get their Ph.D. All the participants voluntarily applied to doctoral programs for personal gain, with all but one being mothers before applying to get their program. Though they knew it would be a rugged mountain to climb, they took that chance to create change in their world and influence change in the culture and families. All the testimonialistas have presented unique barriers in their journey. They have chosen to preserve and follow through with their education creating time to dedicate to their studies. All the testimonialistas are very driven women, mothers, and partners. Their academic goal is to earn the title of doctor to better their lives, their children, and the Latino/a community in which they were raised. Whether they began their respective programs with children or gave birth during their programs, all the testimonialistas share their concern for missing moments with their children and bear the burden of loss of time.

Conclusions from Research.

The final analysis of this study revealed that each of the testimonialistas has the will to persevere through their educational endeavors despite the constant task-switching they encounter. The testimonialistas grapple with internal adversity yet continues to push through to complete their PhDs. They are resilient in that all the testimonialistas understand that sacrifices must be made on their journey but will do all it takes to ensure that sacrifice does not affect their children. These doctoral student mothers continue to put their children's needs first, primarily through the pandemic, by continuing to homeschool their children until the pandemic slowed or the vaccinations became available for children of all ages. Motherhood is no easy task, let alone motherhood in academia; however, these strong-willed Latina women will continue their journey to inspire their children and other women in their culture.