MA IDS Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences


International Development and Service

Degree Name

International Development and Service, MA

First Supervisor

Dr. Julie Dodge


Within the next 10 years, the majority-minority ratio in the United States will shift, and people of color will outnumber white Americans. In 2014, for the first time in history, a majority of students in K-12 were children of color. Although the student demographic of public schools has changed, the demographic of teachers and the style of teaching remain archaic and catered to white students. This qualitative study focuses on the lowest educated population in the U.S. – Latino youth. The project is a case study on a highly concentrated Latino community in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, where 71% of its children live in households with an income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and 33% of residents age 25 and older have not completed high school (Community Commons, 2012; U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). This study explores what factors influence Latino students’ educational attainment from the perspective of former high school graduates and dropouts. Five different focus groups were created from this population, which allowed for discussions on the Latino student experience, access to resources that factored into school completion and the role of local leaders. Through these discussions and participant suggestions, this research draws conclusions on ways to improve Lawrence’s youth development practices in hopes of counteracting the city’s high dropout rate.