Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Trenia L Walker

Second Advisor

Viviane S Lopuch

Third Advisor

Roderick Taylor


There is a demand for accountability for higher education institutions to increase student completion, specifically for institutions that enroll many students from historically underserved and underrepresented populations (HUUP). Meanwhile, labor market analysis presents a demand for skilled and diverse workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI) have an advantage when supporting student completion to meet this workforce demand. This inquiry employed participatory action research (PAR) through a partnership with an HSI in rural Washington State. Using transformative worldview as the theoretical framework, this study aimed to determine the influence of completion planning for STEM students who represent HUUP. Research participants were students in the institution’s mathematics, engineering, science achievement (MESA) program. Two research questions guided this study and centered on how Hispanic participants and their lived experiences may inform completion planning for students from HUUP. The researchers sought to understand to what extent the MESA program’s support services impact student participation at a rural institution. This study collected nonquantitative data through a two-phase approach consisting of a survey and focus groups. The data analysis determined two key themes related to the study’s research questions: student barriers to completion at entry and strategies to support completion. The study’s findings led to four program-specific recommendations and three implications for policy-making decisions for the community partner’s leadership and for other higher education leaders seeking to increase student completion for students from HUUP into STEM pathways.