In the last decade there has been an increase of research of the Latina educational experience from K – 12 to college. This work has also tapped into the experiences of Latinas in the academy in their roles as faculty and administrators. However, there is still limited work on the process of getting into graduate school (the admission (access) process) and on what the day-to-day graduate school journey for Latinas from across disciplines/colleges looks like. In this paper using Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit), a branch of Critical Race Theory (CRT) as the theoretical framework is an essential tool that analyzes and teases out the relationship between the author and the institution(s), that is both the public school system and the ivory tower. By using CRT/LatCrit as an analytical lens to reflect on her own educational journey, the author was able to highlight and theorize elements enhancing her cultural identity, sense of belonging, and further understand the role of family in her aspirations and pursuit of a doctoral degree. Thus, this paper explores 1) access and retention in the early schooling years and 2) the challenges faced and successes experienced by Latinas in the undergraduate journey. This paper ends with a discussion of how the lessons learned early on assist in overcoming challenges in order to gain access and navigate graduate school.



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