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In this paper we grapple with the question of how healthy community and university partnerships can be formed in order to support migrant students’ access to higher education. Employing autoethnographic and narrative research, and drawing from our work within the context of the migrant family conference at California State University, Fullerton from 2011 to 2013, we outline a conceptual model for building healthy partnerships. The first section of this paper offers a general overview of the literature on community-university engagement and collaboration as well as provides background information about the migrant farmworker community. The next section puts forward a new conceptualization of community-university partnerships encompassing the dimensions of trust, validation, reciprocity, and interdependence. These dimensions are framed within the notion of respeto. Finally, the third section of this paper discusses challenges that surface in creating new collaborations as well as addresses practical implications in response to obstacles faced by migrant families. Ultimately, the problems, questions, and proposed frameworks are designed to open a dialogue on the language and lenses we use to characterize the quality of partnerships we seed with historically underserved communities.


This article was originally published in Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, volume 3, issue 2, in 2014.

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