Award Date

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Christine Clark

Second Committee Member

Norma Marrun

Third Committee Member

Katrina Liu

Fourth Committee Member

Denise Dávila

Fifth Committee Member

Anita Revilla

Number of Pages



Research Problem

Over 500,000 U.S.-born children are living in Mexico –some due to parental deportation– experiencing a decrease in their quality of life, the stress of an unfamiliar language and culture, and difficulty accessing education. In order to support them in their transition to Mexico, and to reincorporate them into U.S. society as adults, their struggles and educational trajectories should be of great concern to the Mexican and U.S. governments, as well as higher education institutions.


The purpose of this qualitative study was to document the educational experiences of transnational students attending schools in a border city in northern Mexico due to parental deportation; to investigate the difference in their experiences due to gender; to recognize their critical awareness; and to understand their resistance modes.

Research Questions

How are the educational experiences of transnational youth shaped by parental deportation? In what ways do the educational experiences of transnational students differ due to gender? How does the use of dialogic processes raise the critical consciousness of transnational students? How do transnational youth enact transformational and other types of resistance?

Theoretical Framework

I used transnational feminism (Fernandes, 2013) to situate their experiences in a global socio-political context; dialogic feminism (Puigvert, 2003) to pay special attention to gender, inclusiveness, and power dynamics; and Coyolxauhqui imperative (Anzaldúa, 2015), to discuss the possible transformation of trauma into healing.


I used a critical communicative methodology that favors egalitarian dialogue in order to understand and transform reality. Nine transnational students ages 9-17, three mothers, and one government coordinator participated in this study. Data were collected through pre and post interviews, testimonios, focus groups, and observations, and analyzed using thematic analysis.


The major obstacle transnational students face is the difference in educational systems and teaching practices, followed by unsafe conditions in Mexico, lack of academic Spanish proficiency, and loss of basic social rights. Deportation posed the added burden of stigmatization and exclusion. Gendered violence and female disempowerment had a negative effect on female students and, although participants engaged in social critique in our guided discussions, they also displayed a lack of oppression awareness. Additionally, participants became empowered by collective support and active healing, enacting their agency by engaging in resilient resistance through academic success. Unexpectedly, harsh U.S. immigration policies prompted the Mexican government to expedite the access of transnational students to social services, including education. Finally, having a transnational-sensitive teacher was the single most effective factor to facilitate their transition into the Mexican school system, elucidating the need for the incorporation of a border pedagogy and transnational teacher education to support culturally diverse students in the borderlands, especially along the U.S./Mexico border.


Education; Latin America; Mexico; Migrant Students; Migration; Transnational Students


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Methods

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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