Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Y. Kanno & L. Harklau, eds., Linguistic Minority Students Go to College: Preparation, Access, and Persistence (New York: Routledge, 2012), pp 201-219.


Copyright © 2012 Taylor & Francis.


This ethnographic case study documents the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) first-generation immigrant students as they developed their sense of voice and personal agency at a predominantly White, Midwestern university. The study is framed within the larger context of an ongoing, longitudinal study on the BESITOS (Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students Interacting To Obtain Success) model of recruitment and retention (Herrera & Morales, 2005; Herrera, Morales, Holmes, & Terry, 2011-2012), which was developed in 1999 to address the multifaceted assets and needs of Latina/o learners in higher education. The model takes into account literature on CLD student recruitment and retention (e.g., Ceja, 2001, 2004; Gay, Dingus, &Jackson, 2003; Hobson-Horton & Owens, 2004), second language acquisition (e.g., Cummins, 1991; Krashen, 1991; Thomas & Collier, 1997), and ecologies of care and respect (e.g., Delpit, 1995; Gay, 2000; Ladson-Billings, 1999; Nieto, 2004).

The BESITOS scholarship program is funded by the Office of English Language Acquisition and implements the BESITOS model within the College of Education. The overarching goal of the BESITOS scholarship program is to increase the number of teachers, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, who are prepared to effectively address the needs of CLD students and families. Efforts to meet the program's overarching goal have been guided by a strong commitment to first understand and respect the identities of the students who participate in the program. Faculty and staff look beyond the parameters often set by universities of what it means to care and provide a safe environment for students who are learning to navigate a place that is foreign and often unwelcoming to students who are perceived to have "gaps" in academic background, rather than assets that must be used to accelerate learning. Students' identities, perceived self, culture, language, and cross-cultural experiences are viewed as central to their participation in the program.