Date of Award


Degree Name

Education (M.Ed.)


College of Education

First Advisor

Donald Mitchell

Second Advisor

Jay Cooper

Third Advisor

Shawn Bultsma

Academic Year



Undocumented Latino college students face numerous legal, social, and financial barriers as they attempt to pursue a postsecondary degree. The psychosocial stressors that accompany being labeled as an undocumented immigrant put these students at risk of disengaging from their postsecondary education as they face limited career options and social rejection. Researchers have noted the psychosocial development that occur as students transition to an adult identity, yet little research has been done on how undocumented Latino college students navigate barriers to their identity develop and attempt to define their purpose as not only college students, but members of U.S. Society. This thesis explores how undocumented Latino college students develop a sense of purpose as a result of their psychosocial identity development that occurs during their postsecondary experiences. This study utilizes hermeneutic phenomenological methods to interpret how the narratives provided by study participants reflected Chickering and Reisser’s definition of developing purpose, as well as the barrier navigation that occurs as undocumented students face the challenges of pursuing a postsecondary education within an ambiguous legal climate.