Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Ursula Aldana

Second Advisor

Desiree Zerquera

Third Advisor

Genevieve Negron-Gonzales


Across the United States Conference, Catholic and Jesuit secondary schools are experiencing tremendous change in their student demographics. Schools of today are being challenged to consider what true inclusion looks like within their community vis-à-vis students whose racial, economic, sexual and gender identities do not fit the traditional Catholic or Jesuit school mold. The racial and social order of the United States is replicated within Catholic and Jesuit schools, even when those same communities claim to promote values of inclusion and opportunity. History offers valuable insights to school communities grappling with these questions.

This qualitative study centers the efforts of key participants over 50 years as they advocated on a traditional Jesuit school campus to identify, imagine, and implement support for marginalized students. Identifying and exploring the actions of these Jesuit educators within the larger context of social and cultural forces of change that shape schools over time, their oral histories construct a narrative analysis of how one Jesuit secondary school has responded to the gradual diversification of its student body over the last half-century. Findings are centered on four overarching narrative themes: (a) the problem of selective sight; (b) an institution’s need for legitimacy; (c) varying levels of acceptance; (d) reform within a colorblind context. Findings explore the organizational tensions between on-campus student advocacy and off-campus social justice efforts, the institutional need for legitimacy towards new initiatives regarding race and difference, contradictions around the acceptance of certain groups or strategies but not others, and how organizational narratives can be changed by individuals through creating spaces of reform.

This study may hold significance for Catholic or Jesuit secondary schools whose demographics are shifting away from a traditional, majority white student population to a more diverse student body. This study may also be used to inform Catholic or Jesuit schools that already have established underrepresented student support structures. As we operate schools in this era of growing awareness and understanding of race, gender, class, and various forms of identity, Jesuit schools will increasingly be asked to accommodate and support a broader profile of student than ever before.