Refusing to “Just Survive”

The Experiences of Chicana Activistas in Higher Education


  • X’andrí D.G. Bautista
  • Dra. Patricia Kim-Rajal


Student Activism, Chicana Scholars, First Generation, Communities of Support, Belonging in Higher Education


My research focuses on the experiences of undergraduate Chicanas at a predominantly white university. I document their work in instilling systems of healing through student-led activist diversity initiatives. Our identities as scholars are not objective, they are shaped by the politics and culture we reside in. I document the institutional barriers and exclusion experienced by first generation Chicana students. The Chicana student experiences vary depending on their income, gender, sexuality, cultural identity, and immigration status, factors that impact the retention, graduation, and continuation of Chicanas in higher education. This project recounts, Chicana Scholars’ experience of endured physical, psychological, and emotional burnout. The oral histories and open-ended semi structured interviews that comprise this research center their perceptions of the colonizing university institution as well as their efforts of carving space for institutional healing, joy, and emotional fulfillment given their experiences of unbelonging and exclusion in the higher education academic sector.






Social Sciences