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Cynthia Alcantar - Loyola Marymount University. Los Angeles, CA, US

Cynthia Alcantar

Associate Professor & Director of Higher Education Administration | Loyola Marymount University


Department of Educational Leadership and Administration



Cynthia Alcantar Publication






Cynthia M. Alcantar is an Associate Professor and Director of the Higher Education Administration program in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). Before joining LMU, she was an Assistant Professor of Higher Education Leadership at the University of Nevada, Reno, and held postdoctoral fellowships from the Consortium for Faculty Diversity (2018-2019) and the Institute for Global-Local Action & Study (2017-2018) at Pitzer College. Her research focuses on the social structures that impact the social mobility and integration of racial/ethnic minoritized and immigrant populations in the United States. Particularly, the influence of schools (i.e., public K-20 schools, community colleges, and Minority Serving Institutions) on the educational pathways and civic participation of racial/ethnic minoritized and immigrant students. Her research has been published in The Review of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, Harvard Educational Review, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Qualitative Psychology, and a co-edited book on race and education published through Teachers College Press. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work, including the American Educational Research Association’s Latina/o/x Research Issues SIG Early Career Scholar Award in 2022, the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award in 2021, and the first-place award for the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education & Educational Testing Service Outstanding Dissertation Competition in 2019. In addition to her scholarship, she has extensive experience working in K-12 and higher education settings, including TRIO grant programs at Norco Community College and Claremont Graduate University, the Title V Hispanic Serving Institutions grant program at Mount St. Mary’s College, Norte Vista High School, and John Adams Elementary in Riverside, CA. She also consults with school districts, community colleges, and four-year colleges concerning the campus climate and culture for supporting underserved student populations.

Education (3)

University of California, Los Angeles: Ph.D., Social Science and Comparative Education, Race and Ethnic Studies 2017

Claremont Graduate University: M.A., Higher Education 2009

University of California, Riverside: B.A., Liberal Studies with concentration in Psychology, minor in Sociology 2007


Areas of Expertise (9)

Higher Education

Race and Ethnicity

Equity and Diversity

Civic Engagement

Minority Serving Institutions

Community Colleges

Latina/o/x in Education

Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Education

Immigrant Students in Education

Industry Expertise (3)



Public Policy

Affiliations (4)

  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE)
  • American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE)
  • Diversity Scholars Network

Articles (3)

Civic Engagement of Latinx Students: The Role of Higher Education Institutions in Serving the Public Good

Journal of Hispanic Higher Education

Cynthia Maribel Alcantar


This conceptual article presents a model for understanding and increasing the civic engagement of Latinx students in higher education. The model presents the key student attributes, precollege and college experiences, and institutional characteristics that impact the civic development of Latinx college students. Higher education practitioners and researchers can use the model to inform the understanding and development of programs, services, and practices to increase the civic engagement of Latinx students.

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Meaning-Making About Becoming a Minority Serving Institution: A Case Study of Asian-American Serving Community Colleges

The Review of Higher Education (2019)

Cynthia M. Alcantar, Loni Bordoloi Pazich, Robert T. Teranishi

The persistent stereotypes of Asian-American students being highly academically successful and not needing support presents a unique context for which to study institutions with a critical mass of low-income Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). This critical ethnographic case study examines practitioners' meaning-making of the federal designation as Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions at two community colleges. The findings of the study suggest that the AAPI-serving designation can result in the onset of organizational cultural change through an increased awareness of their student populations and a new commitment to educate and serve AAPI students.

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“Here the Professors Are Your Guide, Tus Guías”: Latina/o Student Validating Experiences With Faculty at a Hispanic-Serving Community College

Journal of Hispanic Higher Education

Cynthia M. Alcantar, Edwin Hernandez


Through interviews with nine Latina/o students enrolled in a 2-year Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), this study examined their interactions with faculty utilizing validation theory as a guiding framework. Findings demonstrate the critical role faculty serve as validating agents and the importance of supporting 2-year HSIs faculty to practice validating experiences. Validating faculty interactions have the potential to increase Latina/o community college student’s sense of belonging, persistence, and academic self-concept.

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