Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Curriculum

First Reader/Committee Chair

Martinez, Edna


Access to U.S. higher education for undocumented students has been challenging over the years despite recent legislative and organizational changes that have afforded some the opportunity to enroll in post-secondary institutions (Conger & Chellman, 2013; Juárez, 2017; Pérez, 2010). Of the approximately 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high schools across the country every year, only 7,000-13,000 enroll in post-secondary institutions annually (Gildersleeve & Hernandez, 2012; Muñoz, 2013). However, most recent data reveal that an estimated 98,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools across the country every year (Zong & Batalova, 2019). Despite these challenges, undocumented students are resilient and have high educational aspirations. The purpose of this study was to explore the role an Undocumented Student Resource Center (USRC) plays in the college journey of undocumented students. The research questions that guided the study were: 1) How does an USRC at a four-year, public, comprehensive university influence the experiences of undocumented students, if at all?; 2) What strategies does an USRC implement to support undocumented students, if any?; and 3) How does an USRC influence the persistence of undocumented students, if at all?. Using an intrinsic case study design, data were collected through semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and participant observations. Although there are studies that have focused on the experiences of undocumented students in higher education, there is limited research on Undocumented Student Resource Centers (USRCs) and the role they play in student success. Accordingly, the purpose of this intrinsic case study was to explore the role of an USRC and its influence in the college journey of undocumented students at Westside University (WU). The six major interrelated themes constructed from the data included: 1) Facilitating College Access; 2) Breaking Down Barriers; 3) Alleviating Fear; 4) Fostering Acompañamiento; 5) Promoting Agency and Advocacy; and 6) Advancing Post-Baccalaureate Education and Career Choice.