Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Kathryn Howard


This autoethnography narrative examines my journey as a first-generation Mexican immigrant woman from birth, through completion of the doctorate degree at California State University, San Bernardino. The purpose in writing this autoethnography is to present a personalized account of my experiences growing up, in communicating between two languages, the structural and personal motivators behind maintaining a heritage language (Spanish), and to reflect, in my experience, how I have negotiated with multiple social identities, including ethnic, academic, and bilingual identities. In this self-study, I bring the reader closer to Mexican-American identity, language, and culture. Specifically, this qualitative analysis of Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) and identity will examine the following questions: a) How did I perceive and negotiate my bilingual identity?; b) What obstacles did I face when speaking English, Spanish or both?; c) What role does SHL have in identity development?

I have chosen a qualitative approach, specifically an autoethnography, to answer these questions in order to add to existing literature rooted in the lived experience of Spanish heritage language maintenance. This approach allows me to be the researcher, subject, and narrator of the study, and allows me to reflect on my education as a bilingual and bicultural immigrant student. The autoethnographer’s subjective experiences (my stories) become the primary data and encompass looking at a culture through the lens of the researcher. While searching for themes written in vignettes, my journey is an account of two worlds, which coexist, in the infinite intricacy of language learning, speaking, thinking, and being.