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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Enobong Anna Branch

Second Advisor

Joya Misra

Third Advisor

Melissa Wooten

Fourth Advisor

Kimberly Truong

Subject Categories

Educational Sociology | Higher Education | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology


This dissertation examines the relationship between race and educational achievement among inner city, low income, first generation, and high achieving Latino/a students. Research on students of color has focused on cultural deficit models, which portray students as culturally deprived and proposes cultural assimilation as the solution (Nieto 2010; Delpit 2006; Solórzano & Yosso 2002). As a way to contest these models, I describe the role of Academic Support & College Readiness Program (ASP) as a place where community cultural wealth (Yosso 2005) is being created and transferred. Community cultural wealth is an alternative concept that uses Critical Race Theory (CRT) to challenge interpretations of traditional cultural capital theories. It is defined as knowledge, skills and contacts possessed and utilized by Communities of Color to resist different forms of oppression (Yosso 2005; Solórzano & Yosso 2002). While many studies focus on evaluating academic support programs, this study focuses exclusively on students’ experiences and the role of ASP in facilitating their success. I conducted participant observation and forty-seven interviews with students who reside in La Esperanza, a city about forty minutes north of Boston. I explore how they interpret their roles as children of immigrants, high school students, college students, siblings, role models and risk takers. My results highlight the need for scholars and educators to move away from negative discourse regarding students of color and learn more about how communities of color create cultural wealth to resist different forms of oppression.