Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Stanton E. Wortham


The social, emotional, and sexual experiences of adolescent girls in the United States are often framed as superfluous, negative, and distracting from academic activity, rather than as significant learning experiences in girls’ developmental and academic trajectories. Specifically, the social, emotional, and sexual experiences of Latina adolescents living in poverty are commonly characterized as causing them to make poor choices, to drop out of school, or to become teenage mothers or the girlfriends of gang members (Denner & Guzman, 2006). However, most Latina girls’ experiences do not match these characterizations and little research has been conducted on the relationships between the social, emotional, and sexual experiences of Latina adolescents and their educational trajectories. Using ethnographic techniques, this research aims to the roles that Latina girls’ social, emotional, and sexual experiences play in their identity development and experiences as students in one New Latino Diaspora town called Marshall. This research will enrich feminist, educational, and developmental psychological scholarship and will provide a deeper understanding of how scholars and practitioners can provide nurturing developmental spaces for Latina girls to support one another’s academic and personal trajectories.

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