Undergraduate Honors Thesis Spotlight: Jenifer Gaitán

Image of UConn Storrs Campus UConn ’21 graduate Jenifer Gaitán worked with UConn History Professor Ariel Mae Lambe on their senior thesis. Their project uses a multi-layered methodology that examines the experiences of first-generation Latinx college students.  Jenifer majored in History with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. A job well done! 

Jenifer Gaitán, “Salir Adelante: Exploring the Systems of Support of First-Generation Latinx College Students in Their Pursuit of Higher Education”

Thesis Advisor: Ariel Mae Lambe

This thesis explores both the obstacles and systems of support of first-generation Latinx college students as they complete their undergraduate education. The history of the Latinx community in the US and their fight for education is detailed. An analysis is provided of the impact of social, cultural, and economic conditions and the role of immigration in the lives of this student demographic. Finally, this thesis contributes to this area of study through the analysis of ten qualitative interviews that were conducted of first-generation Latinx college students in the last year. Several obstacles that students faced were related to finances, gendered expectations, serving as the middleperson between their families and U.S. institutions. Students identified both formal and informal sources of support, which came from student organizations, mentors, their peers, as well as workshops and presentations. These student’s experiences illustrate the importance of having culturally competent resources and material support available in the form of scholarships, computers, and textbooks to ease financial and other burdens.