UCLA Ed & IS Magazine: “Wait, What Do You Mean by College?”

SSCE alumna Tanya J. Gaxiola Serrano examines the college trajectories of Latina/o students through the lens of critical race theory.

Tanya J. Gaxiola Serrano is a recent Ph.D. graduate of UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences and Comparative Education (’18, Race and Ethnic Studies) and formerly worked as Assistant Director of the Center for Critical Race Studies at UCLA.

Gaxiola Serrano has examined the college trajectories of Latina/o students through the lens of critical race theory. In a recently published article in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, she presents the barriers that Latina/o students face, such as institutional racism, exclusionary academic tracking, lack of information on college and college-prep courses, and the low expectations of teachers and administrators. She posits that these conditions lead to disproportionately high enrollments of Latina/o students in community colleges over four-year institutions of higher learning.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Tijuana, Gaxiola Serrano and her family migrated back to the United States when she was in elementary school, settling in Chula Vista, California. Her father was a transnational worker who crossed the border legally each day, and her mother was a preschool teacher. Gaxiola Serrano, who has done extensive research on other aspects of the lives of Latina/o community college students, says her findings “[challenge] the narrative that Latina/o students don’t care about higher education or that they are lazy or unfit for it.”

To read “Wait, What Do You Mean by College?,” visit the Sudikoff Institute Public Forum, or view the Fall 2018 issue of UCLA Ed & IS Magazine.