Seals and Leaks in the Latine Doctoral Pipeline
Maricela Bañuelos

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Irvine

Primary Discipline

Latines are the largest racial-ethnic minority group in the United States, comprising 19% of the United States’ population and are the second fastest growing racial-ethnic group. Yet, they made up a mere seven percent of all Ph.D. degree recipients in 2020, which has only increased by two percent in the past 20 years. Some key challenges in Latines’ pathways include systemic oppression and navigating the barriers faced by first-generation college students. These systemic issues continue once Latines enroll in doctoral programs, manifesting in racialized and unequal socialization, which is detrimental to Latines’ satisfaction and morale. My dissertation builds on this scholarship by employing a longitudinal qualitative methodology that examines the experiences of Latine that applied to doctoral programs but did not enroll, the factors that influenced whether Latine chose to reapply, and how they experienced reapplication processes. Secondly, it examines how Latines’ social capital during the doctoral application juncture shapes their subsequent experience in developing support systems in doctoral programs or accessing support in their reapplication processes. Thirdly, my dissertation explores the impact that COVID-19 had on Latines’ doctoral trajectories, given the way the pandemic has uniquely affected the Latine community, changed universities funding and resources, and amplified existing social inequalities. My dissertation provides an important contribution to educational literature by identifying critical junctures where universities can intervene to create seals in existing, but unexplored, Latine doctoral pipeline leaks.
About Maricela Bañuelos
Maricela Bañuelos is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at the University of California (UC) Irvine with an emphasis in Chicano Latino studies. She received her Sociology B.A. from UC Santa Barbara in 2016, and graduated with Summa Cum Laude, highest honors and distinction in her major. She received her master’s in Educational Policy and Social Context from UC Irvine in 2020. Maricela was awarded the Ford Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2021, to support her doctoral research, which focuses on educational pathways and social mobility of first-generation college students, low-income students, and underrepresented students of color. She has published articles in top ranking Education and Sociology journals such as Computers & Education and Gender & Society. Her dissertation focuses on understanding the seals and leaks in the Latine doctoral pipeline, which has been funded through the David P. Gardner Research Fellow Award and Interdisciplinary Research Team Award. As a graduate student, Maricela has been heavily involved in mentoring other underrepresented students. For instance, she has served as a writing mentor for Competitive Edge, a program that supports underrepresented students’ acclimation into Ph.D. programs. Within this role, she provided eight incoming doctoral students with feedback on their fellowship applications and participated in panels where she shared insights on mentor relationships, time-management, and finances as a grad student. Maricela aspires to become a tenured Sociology professor where she can continue to advocate for historically-excluded students in higher education so that they have the support and resources they need to thrive in postsecondary institutions and beyond.

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