The Lived Experiences of Hispanic High School Dropouts Along the U.S.-Mexico Border: A Phenomenological Study

The Lived Experiences of Hispanic High School Dropouts Along the U.S.-Mexico Border: A Phenomenological Study

Author: 
Prisci Roca Tipton
Program of study: 
D.B.A.
Abstract: 
More than 24 million students have dropped out of high school in the past four decades, and Hispanic students accounted for 25% of these dropouts. Students who drop out of high school often face a great deal of economic and social distress. This qualitative phenomenology study described the lived experiences of Hispanic high school dropouts and their educational experiences in a border-state school. It was intended to help increase the number of high school students earning high school diplomas in all U.S. schools. The data collection process consisted of semi-structured, open-ended interview questions to explore the lived experiences of 20 Hispanic dropouts along the U.S.-México Border. Qualitative research software was used to organize and analyze research participants’ transcribed interviews. Four central themes emerged from these interviews: (a) experiences of declining academic performance and impractical solutions, (b) weak student-teacher relationships and inadequate approaches to student learning, (c) displaced relationships with school administrators, and (d) gangs in schools. The study recommended cultivating effective university-school district partnerships. If well designed, such partnerships would help school district board members, superintendents, administrators, teachers, counselors, and community leaders understand the needs of their students. Applying these recommendations could also provide training opportunities for educators to develop strategies to meet these needs.
Dedication: 
It is with sincere gratitude that I dedicate my dissertation to my husband and our beautiful son: Francisco Steven Tipton, Esq., you are the world to me and words can’t express how much I love you now and forever. I believe education changes lives, but you and Scottie changed mine, and I have no doubt that our accomplishments through our unity will serve to empower our families and communities. I hope our son Scott Gordon Roca Tipton is as inspired by us as we have been by him. Scott, you are the sweetest baby in town and we love you forever and ever and ever. To my father and mother: Ricardo Francisco Roca Villavicencio of Bahía de Caraquez, Ecuador was caught as a stowaway on a ship from Bahía de Caraquez in 1938 at the age of nine, escaping the poverty and misery of his family. He hid in an ice room for three days with no food and water. The captain kept him on board, and after twenty years of roaming the seas, he settled in Brownsville, Texas. Despite having no more than a second-grade education, he and my mother, Mauricia Roca Chávez Nava of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, México, launched Roca Construction Company, building shrimp boats in the Port of Brownsville. My three siblings and I worked at the shipyard throughout our childhood—I was typing 25-page contracts by the age of 10, and I learned to weld, drill, cut metal, paint, and sandblast alongside my brothers. My father thought of shrimp boats as an encyclopedia because they require a little bit of everything, and if it was in the encyclopedia, we did it. The business did not survive the introduction of lowpriced imported shrimp, but it did change my understanding of business and the course of my life. The “riches” piece of my parents’ rags-to-riches story is their long trajectory of hard work, determination, and perseverance, and the proof lies in this product. To my brothers and family: Adalberto Roca, Ricardo Francisco Roca, M.D., and Max Eric Roca, todo para enfrente y nada para atrás. To my sisters and family: Blanca (Beto) Cantu and Berta Cruz, nieces and nephews. To my father-in-law and family: Mr. Bruce Fielding Tipton, Hilda Tipton, and Danny Tipton, the best tomato farmer in the world. To my grandparents from Ecuador: Don Maximino and Martina Roca, as well as my uncles, aunts, and cousins. To my grandparents from Rancho 5 de Mayo in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, México: Don Julio and Alberta Chávez, uncles, aunts, and cousins—si se puede! To the Ghionzoli family: Dick, Claudina, Danny, Art, Rich, Robert. You are forever my second family.
Acknowledgements: 
I first want to thank my chair and my committee members, Dr. Adolfo Gonzales, Dr. Fathiah Inserto, and Dr. Auslyn Nieto—this was made possible because of each and every one of you. My husband and son: Francisco Steven Tipton, Esq. and Scott Gordon Roca Tipton. My parents: Ricardo Francisco Roca Villavicencio and Mauricia Roca Chávez Nava. My brothers: Adalberto Roca, Ricardo Francisco Roca, M.D., and Max Eric Roca. I also want to thank all the staff of Roca Construction Company. To the teachers, parents and children of CastleRock Children’s Daycare, together we “discovered the magic of early childhood”. Special thanks to my dear friends Aracely Alvarez, Dr. Javier Cavazos, Norma Garcia, Dr. Eunice Lerma, Dr. Ming-Tsan Pierre Lu, and Claudia Rojas. Last but not least, my thanks to the “Dream Team,” the greatest inspiring group of leaders, scholars, practitioners, mentors, colleagues, and friends: Dr. Miguel Ángel Escotet, Dr. Carl A. Stockton, Dr. Gayle A. Brogdon, Jr., Dr. Reynaldo Ramirez, Dr. Zelma Mata, Dr. Olivia Rivas, Dr. Luis V. Colom†, Father Armand Mathew†, Dr. Eli Eric Pena, Dr. Carl A. Montoya, Dr. Sylvia P. Atkinson, Mrs. Celeste Sanchez, Mary Julia Trévino, Dr. Tunde Ogidan, Dr. Terry P. Overton, Dr. Javier Cavazos, Dr. Eunice Lerma, Dr. Ming-Tsan Pierre Lu, Dr. Karin Lewis, Dr. Laura Jewett, Mr. Jay Harris, Dr. Linda Gallegos, Dr. Gregorio Garcia, and John Rodriguez.