Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Andrew J. Hughes


This interpretive phenomenology study aimed to explore the lived experiences of young Latinas in a rural and under-resourced community. The analysis of the messages received by young women in educational institutions, at home, and in science and math classes was necessary due to the underrepresentation of Latinas in STEM fields. Using an interpretive phenomenology lens, the researcher collected journals from seven participants. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with all seven participants every week for 16 weeks by the Xinachtli facilitator. The data collected from the journals were transcribed in a line-by-line analysis and affirmed using qualitative analysis. The codes were studied to determine how they connected to the research questions. An exit survey was completed by the seven participants, and this helped determine the most important elements of the Xinachtli program. The resulting data showed that: (1) Latinas navigate being labeled and silenced at school through resistance, despite this survival mechanism going against the gender socialization of their culture; (2) the relationships maintained between the participants and their families were complex, and this complexity was especially significant when it came to the relationships the participants held with their mothers; (3) rural and under-resourced schools experience shortages of qualified educators, which resulted in a lack of relatedness to science and math courses, limiting opportunities to prepare for college; (4) Xinachtli provided the young Latinas opportunities to develop relationships with positive women role models, led to zero acts of violence during the 16 weeks, and improved self-regulation, (5) programs like Xinachtli are essential in developing young women’s mindfulness, self-regulation, and self-efficacy. Holistic practices allow students to be seen, heard, and their realities acknowledged.