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Learning the Possible

Mexican American Students Moving from the Margins of Life to New Ways of Being

Reynaldo Reyes III

Publication Year: 2013

Learning the Possible demonstrates that it is truly possible for underprepared high school graduates to be successful in college. It chronicles the struggles and triumphs of five Mexican American students in their first year of college, aided by a one-year scholarship and support program called the College Assistance Migrant Program. CAMP, a federally funded program, is designed to help college students from migrant and/or economically disadvantaged families complete their first year of college. CAMP’s principal objective is to put students on a trajectory toward completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Laura, Christina, Luz, Maria, and Ruben, as the author calls them, had daunting challenges: difficulties with English, extremely low self-confidence, teenage motherhood, conflict between gender roles and personal desires, and a history of gang membership. Focusing on the importance of constructing a new identity as a successful student, Reynaldo Reyes III shares with readers the experiences of these marginalized students. Their stories, coupled with perspectives from instructors, CAMP staff and counselors, and the author’s own observations, illustrate the influence of past schooling, the persistence of culture, and the tensions and challenges inherent in developing a new identity.
This is a study of students who came from the margins and, in a very short time, moved toward the mainstream. In the micro view, it provides extraordinarily useful case studies of a successful intervention program in process. In the larger scope, it is a look at the socially constructed nature of possibility, hope, and success.
Learning the Possible demonstrates that it is truly possible for underprepared high school graduates to be successful in college. It chronicles the struggles and triumphs of five Mexican American students in their first year of college, aided by a one-year scholarship and support program called the College Assistance Migrant Program. CAMP, a federally funded program, is designed to help college students from migrant and/or economically disadvantaged families complete their first year of college. CAMP’s principal objective is to put students on a trajectory toward completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Laura, Christina, Luz, Maria, and Ruben, as the author calls them, had daunting challenges: difficulties with English, extremely low self-confidence, teenage motherhood, conflict between gender roles and personal desires, and a history of gang membership. Focusing on the importance of constructing a new identity as a successful student, Reynaldo Reyes III shares with readers the experiences of these marginalized students. Their stories, coupled with perspectives from instructors, CAMP staff and counselors, and the author’s own observations, illustrate the influence of past schooling, the persistence of culture, and the tensions and challenges inherent in developing a new identity.
This is a study of students who came from the margins and, in a very short time, moved toward the mainstream. In the micro view, it provides extraordinarily useful case studies of a successful intervention program in process. In the larger scope, it is a look at the socially constructed nature of possibility, hope, and success.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. v-7

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-9

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xiii

This book explores the experiences of five Mexican American students who develop emergent discourses (Gee, 1992) of community, resilience, and self-pride to navigate through the first year of college, a seemingly elusive goal at the outset. We learn how each student in the process...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

First and foremost, I would not have been able to finish this book without the encouragement, love, and support of my awesome wife, Lorie. She worked just as hard as I did to get this book done. Thank you for everything, Babe! And thank you to my wonderful children—Alexis, Jonah...

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1. Introduction: Urgency of Incompleteness

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pp. 1-23

They still have hope. They are still there. We know they are, but too many today choose to ignore them. They, the marginalized,1 are the students who have been discarded, forgotten, in the name of everything in the history of our schools. Color. Language. Economics. Efficiency. High test scores...

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2. Coming from the Margins of School and Life: The Students

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pp. 24-59

The camp student experience, like any student experience, begins with a history. Here we begin with a moving snapshot of who the students were, what they experienced, and how they wrestled with present emotions from the weight of their history as they entered their first year of college...

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3. College through CAMP: Access, Community, and Opportunity to Learn

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pp. 60-91

There are still problems in providing access and opportunities for marginalized Mexican American students (Gándara and Contreras, 2009). And even if they are provided with access to particular communities of practice, often the practice within those communities is disconnected from the social...

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4. Key Interactions as Agency and Empowerment

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pp. 92-100

In schools and classrooms, the everyday minutiae of teaching and learning often are overlooked. The consequences of these minutiae are rarely examined by teachers and students themselves in the frenetic pace of everyday teaching and learning. Such minutiae are interactions that occur on a scale that often seems inconsequential...

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5. Academic Performance and Practice: Grades

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pp. 101-123

In performance and practice of a student identity, there are also tangible results. This chapter looks at the students’ grades—results of their efforts, struggles, and emerging confidence and abilities as students. In the present world of schooling we cannot ignore the fact that student performance...

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6. Emerging and Evolving Identities as Successful Students

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pp. 124-158

The camp students changed and continued to change. But in what ways? I interviewed each student at approximately the same time throughout the academic year, and then one last time four or five months after the end of the CAMP program year. In each interview there was always...

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7. Discussion: Implications of the Possible

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pp. 159-187

The interactional dynamics that occur in the educational contexts we construct for our students provide them opportunities to create a vision of what is possible within. With the CAMP program acting as a mediating force in the practice and performance of marginalized Mexican American students...

Bibliography

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pp. 189-197

Source Credits

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pp. 199-200

Index

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pp. 201-205


E-ISBN-13: 9780816599806
E-ISBN-10: 0816599807
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816521265
Print-ISBN-10: 0816521263

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 3 photos, 10 tables
Publication Year: 2013

Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth