Platicando con nuestras hermanas (Talking with our sisters): A case study of latina student affairs administrators' mentoring experiences
Perez, Lisa Ocañas
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Hispanics and women represent the fastest growing demographic shift in post-secondary enrollment, yet few Latinas have reached advanced positions within Student Affairs divisions in higher education (Yakaboski & Donahoo, 2011). The nexus of the dramatic student demographic change and the social structure of who is represented in these senior-level positions raise questions about patterns that may signal current discriminatory practices or emerging opportunities surrounding institutional mentoring practices. The purpose of this study was to describe and understand the mentoring experiences of five senior-level Latina Student Affairs administrators in Texas. Using ethnographic collective case study methods, this qualitative study employed feminism and LatCrit as its theoretical framework. The primary sources of data included pláticas [tr: talks], artifacts, and reflections. Arts-based techniques were used to analyze and represent the data. Findings are presented as co-constructed narratives of the participants’ mentoring experiences and described as: informal mentoring; sharing meaningful connections; serving as advisors, coaches, or teachers; natural and organic; strong bonds; mentoring through technology and groups; familia y construcción comunitaria [tr: family and community building]; tienen las ganas y coraje [tr: having the desire and courage]; haciendo la diferencia [tr: making a difference]; un circulo de empoderiamento [tr: circle of empowerment], and nuestras raíces [tr: our roots]. This study informs administrators to encourage and enable Latinas to pursue senior-level administrative positions. Two implications for practice were suggested: mentoring to empower and coming together. Advocating and nurturing informal mentoring models, which include a more collective approach in bringing people of similar cultures and values together to develop/strengthen connections with one another is needed. One implication for methodology was recommended: growing through sharing. It is important to recognize that providing a space for pláticas to occur transcends place and time, especially with the use of technology. Pláticas as a methodological approach provides a considerable range of interaction and exchange of ideas, beliefs and values in a fluid, natural structure, which may result, in co-produced narratives about mentoring. Lastly, two implications for scholarship were proposed: being seen and heard, and being a madrina [tr: sponsor]. Advocating for and appointing Latinas to positions of visibility and authority is paramount. Being in these positions provides an opportunity for Latinas to work on implementing change, and present alternative viewpoints to achieve more inclusive environments.