Research on Capitol Hill

Expected Graduation Year



College of Humanities and Social Sciences


English Department

Faculty Mentor

Crescencio Lopez Gonzalez


The tensions that dominate the lives of Mexican-American adolescents complicate their academic achievement. In addition to a lack of parental and administrative support, many Anglo-American teachers see Mexican-American students as lacking capability or intelligence, stereotypes that poison progress and inhibit learning. Our research seeks to consider, on the other hand, the influence of visionary, dedicated teachers in the lives of underprivileged students. This study utilizes educational life stories narrated through film, primarily Walkout (2006) by Edward James Olmos, Stand and Deliver (1988) by Ramón Menéndez, Spare Parts (2015) by Sean McNamara, and Niki Caro’s McFarland, USA (2015). Detailing the experiences of Caucasian and Latino teachers and their Mexican-American students, these autobiographical film narratives point to the power of individual teachers to open doors of opportunity for positive change and progress in the lives of their students. By evaluating and analyzing these stories, our research suggests that those teachers who look beyond racial stereotypes and recognize their potential as educators to break the cycle not only liberate their students, but also themselves.

First Co-Presenter's Department

Languages, Philosophy and Communication Studies Department

Document Type


Publication Date




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