A Culturally Validated Model of Student Success Services and Academic and Curriculum Enhancements at a Hispanic-Serving Institution

  • Devan R. Romero Department of Kinesiology, California State University San Marcos
  • Minerva Gonzalez Office of Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities, California State University San Marcos
  • Marisol Clark-Ibanez Department of Sociology, California State University San Marcos
  • Kimberly D’Anna-Hernandez Department of Psychology, California State University San Marcos
Keywords: Latinx, First- Year Programs, Retention, Higher Education, Validation Theory


Though college enrollment rates for Mexican-American students have increased over the past years, Mexican-Americans still have one of the lowest rates for degree completion. However, more work is recognizing the strengths of students of Mexican descent, particularly those related to culture such as familism, and calling for asset-based programs that validate the student to increase student retention and persistence. Programs infused with such an approach likely address aspects that improve performance amongst Mexican-American students; however, evidence-based assessment is limited. This paper will detail an asset-based program that uses a culturally validated model of student success services and academic and curriculum enhancements at a Hispanic-Serving Institution to increase overall Latinx student retention and persistence. The program infuses Validation Theory (Rendon, 1994) to address cultural strengths of students and validate their life experiences as first-time freshmen, by creating a culturally relevant curriculum, enhancing culturally relevant student support services, and promoting education equity. Students involved in this program report a high level of belongingness at the university as well as have higher pass rates in their culturally validated courses. Recommendations are discussed for implementation of such a comprehensive program at other institutions as well as implications for higher education.