Drops in the Ocean: Rooted Academic Identities and Transformational Resistance in a College Assistance Migrant Program

Brendan H. O’Connor, Oscar Mancinas, Megan Troxel Deeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This qualitative study investigated the experiences of first- and second-year migrant undergraduate students and staff in the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at Arizona State University (ASU). ASU CAMP, which started in 2016, is the first program of its kind at an Arizona public university. Using an ethnographic monitoring approach, a research team that included a faculty member and graduate and undergraduate students conducted observations in a variety of CAMP settings, along with interviews and document analysis, in order to examine how Mexican-origin CAMP scholars developed academic identities rooted in family and community strengths while resisting assimilation to the “foreign land” of the university. We theorize students’ academic identity development and staff’s efforts to support and advocate for them as a form of transformational resistance through which participants acknowledged the inequities and challenges facing migrant students in postsecondary education and began to “reinvent” the university as they confronted this reality. The findings are relevant to scholars, teachers, and others who work with migrant students in K-12 and postsecondary settings, as well as those who seek to support Latinx and first-generation college students’ academic identity development in culturally sustaining ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-453
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Latinos and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • College assistance migrant program (CAMP)
  • Latinx students
  • Mexican-American students
  • academic identity
  • college access
  • funds of knowledge
  • migrant education
  • postsecondary and higher education
  • resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education


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