Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Francisco Guajardo

Second Advisor

Dr. Velma Menchaca

Third Advisor

Dr. Miguel de los Santos


This dissertation, my testimonio, is a critical self-reflection about my experiences as a Latina in higher education. I write my story with an awareness, a critical consciousness, of who I am as an individual in the shared spaces of my life—as a daughter, a sister, a mother, a student, a researcher, a teacher, a learner, a partner, a lover, a leader, and a work in progress—and an acute desire to be an agent of change. Through my educational journey, I have been able to honor my epistemological, mestiza consciousness, challenge how I view the world, my ontological framework, and understand how my ethics and values shape my work, my axiological influences. I utilize Wilson’s (2008) Indigenous research paradigm that respects and values relationships and relational accountability.

I share my personal, academic, and professional story through autoethnographic testimonio as a research method to challenge the master narrative about socioeconomically poor, rural students, teen parents, and Latina leaders in higher education. Through the lenses of Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, and Chicana/Latina/Mexicana feminist theories, provides for me the theoretical, epistemological, axiological and methodological congruency that permeates who I want to be as an individual, a researcher, and a leader in higher education.

My dissertation is organized in both a traditional and non-traditional approach, much how I have lived my life—the chapters represent a standard structure while the content takes on a more organic format. Chapter 1 serves as the introduction and includes a statement of the problem, purpose of the study, and research questions; Chapter 2 provides a review of the literature, theories, and frameworks that have influenced my life and by extension, my research and my dissertation; and Chapter 3 describes the methodology utilized and the reason why it was selected. Chapters 4 and 5 serve as the data findings and conclusion, respectively.

My testimonio must be shared not only within academia, but with families that value education and the abundance of rewards that are brought about by that goal.


Copyright 2017 Daria Lisa Cardoza. All Rights Reserved.