Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Mohammad Moin Uddin

Committee Members

Allen Gorman, Michael Burford, Matthew Fehskens


From 2000 to 2014 the number of Hispanics grew 230%, representing an 8.6% of the national's youth (Tennessee Higher Education Commission, 2016). Although the population is growing, the educational attainment does not reflect this growth. This research tries to identify what factors influence individuals' decision to pursue higher education in rural Tennessee. Intrinsic (grit, hardiness, and motivation to lead) and extrinsic factors (Status in the U.S., caregivers’ education, involvement in high school and others) were explored. Sixty-six complete responses were submitted to our online survey. Hypothesis testing with Pearson chi-square, difference of means (ANOVA and two sample t-test), and correlational analysis were conducted. It was concluded that regardless of the level of education, caregivers will motivate their students to pursue higher education. In addition, first generation students tend to showcase more grit than their counter parts and that the more education the individual has, the more they exemplify grit, hardiness, and motivation to lead.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.