Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education-Higher Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Karyn Rabourn

Second Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Bartels

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Debernardi

Academic Year



Undocumented students experience uniquely distinctive barriers in their pursuit of postsecondary education. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which undocumented students make meaning of their lived experiences by examining the various dimensions of their educational journey outside of the broader legal and political context. The study specifically highlighted undocumented student stories to investigate the strategies used by individuals to survive, persevere, and navigate institutions of higher education. Rooted in Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth Model, this qualitative study used semi-structured interview methodology to unveil the ways in which undocumented students utilize numerous and intersecting forms of capital to reach their educational goals, specifically to gain college access, persist within institutional landscapes, and build resiliency. Through the documentation of student stories, research findings suggest that undocumented students use previously overlooked forms of capital obtained through non-normative avenues to survive and succeed within unsupportive educational environments.