Date of Award

Fall 10-29-2021

Degree Type

Open Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carly Wynne-Womack

Second Advisor

Katherine Rose Adams

Third Advisor

Linda Reece


Student success for marginalized populations has become a priority for post-secondary institutions, especially Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI). As a factor in the institutional environment, the objective of this case study was to understand the advising experience of first-generation Hispanic students at a Georgia HSI. Using the lens of Sanford’s (1966) Theory of Challenge and Support, student interviews were conducted, and institutional documents and archival advising survey records were analyzed to understand the student perceptions of academic advising. Participants shared challenges as first-generation students with the lack of knowledge and family understanding and as Hispanic student with familial support, help seeking attitudes and legal status. In discussing their advising experiences, participants discussed various ways that advisors provided support and expressed the value they found in advising. Participants cited caring, communication, knowledgeable, and empathy as desired characteristics of a supportive advisor. Awareness of a student’s background, a limited presence of constructive challenges and inconsistencies in advising experiences highlighted issues that could prevent students from reaching the optimum growth part of the challenge-support continuum. Results provide insights for institutions to evaluate and create ways to improve their advising programs and support systems for first-generation, Hispanic students.