Term of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Peggy Shannon-Baker

Committee Member 2

Robert Lake

Committee Member 3

Roberto Gonzales

Committee Member 3 Email


Non-Voting Committee Member

Dinny Aletheiani:dinny.aletheiani@yale.edu


This dissertation is an autobiographical exploration of my childhood experience in Méjico, my experience of involuntary immigration, and my life in the United States. I am Claudia Martinez, partially Mexican and partially American. I am neither. I am a new mezcla who is known as a mestiza (Anzaldúa, 1987). Theoretically, I draw upon a wide array of literature on the experience of immigrants such as issues of language (e.g., Igoa, 1995; Soto, 1997; Valdez, 1996, 2001), culture (e.g., Au, 2014; Soto, 1997; Phillion, He & Connelly, 2005), power (e.g., Freire, 1970/1992; He, Phillion, Chan, & Xu, 2008; Soto,1997), and identity (e.g., Anzaldúa, 1987, 1990; Gonzales, 2016; He, 2003, 2010). Methodologically I draw upon autobiographical writings of people of color (e.g., Anzaldúa, 1990; He, 2003, 2010; Anzaldúa & Keating, 2009; Moraga & Anzaldúa, 1983). I incorporate Spanish words into writing to capture the mestiza quality of my life. I italicize Spanish words and incorporate artwork, personal paintings, and poems throughout my dissertation. I use artwork, a powerful mode of expression, to convey feelings and thoughts that are hard to express with words. I collect daily talks and conversations with my family members, relatives, and any others who contribute to my life in Méjico and the United States to verify the accuracy of my rememoring (Morrison, 1987/2004). I integrate my reflections and historical narratives throughout my dissertation to provide contexts for and theorize my stories.

Six meanings have emerged from my dissertation inquiry: (1) Re-memoring (Morrison, 1987/2004) takes pain and emotion but it catharizes and liberates from all forms of oppression. (2) The “New Mestiza” empowers myself, other Mexican American students and educators to raise critical consciousness about who we were, how we become who we are, and how we position ourselves in the changing and contested multicultural, multilingual, and multiracial world (Anzaldúa, 1987, 1990; Anzaldúa & Keating, 2009; Moraga & Anzaldúa, 1983). (3) Struggles of Mexican American immigrant families are part of their children’s life at home, in the community, and at school. (4) English-only policies deprive ELLs’ rights to maintain their cultural and linguistic heritages (Valdés, 2001; Murillo et al., 2010), deculturize students (Spring, 2016), subtract their schooling (Valenzuela; 2016), and eliminate their existence (Anzaldúa, 1987). (5) Incorporating poems, paintings (Bagley & Castro-Salazar, 2012), historical narratives and analysis helps articulate the struggles of Mexican Americans/Latinx which, helps develop cultural empathy towards immigrants. (6) Valuing the struggles of Mexican Americans/Latinx families and valuing their children’s funds of knowledge (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) help cultivate culturally inspiring learning environments (Valenzuela; 2016; He, Schultz, & Schubert, 2015) where teachers, parents, administrators and policy makers work together to develop culturally responsive, relevant, and sustaining pedagogies (Gay, 2000/2018; Ladson-Billings, 1994/2009: Paris & Alim, 2017) where all students have equal opportunities to reach their highest potential (Siddle-Walker, 1996).

INDEX WORDS: Autobiographical narrative, Arts-based research, Paintings, Poetry, Immigrants, Bilingualism, Oppression, Multiculturalism, Critical pedagogy, Culturally responsive and Sustaining pedagogy, Identity, Language, Culture, and Power

Research Data and Supplementary Material


Available for download on Friday, November 14, 2025