2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


The Influence of the Multilingual Student Alliance on Sense of Belonging and Educational Success Among Refugee Background Students

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. April S. Masarik


Higher education is a human right proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 26.2); however, refugee background students (RBSs) often face barriers in higher education. These barriers include language difficulties, discrimination, and isolation to name a few (Mangan & Winter, 2017). Although many RBSs and their families place a high value on higher education, these barriers can make it more difficult to obtain a degree and secure employment in their desired field (Stevenson & Willott, 2007). Even further, relative to other student populations, research involving the voices of RBSs in higher education is relatively scarce and desperately needed to inform educational practices and programs (Mangan & Winter, 2017). To address these gaps in the literature, we developed a survey to distribute among leaders and members of a RBS organization on campus -- the Multilingual Student Alliance (MLSA) -- to investigate the degree to which involvement in the alliance is linked to: (a) a sense of campus belonging; (b) overall satisfaction with their university experience; and (c) educational success. Our research provides RBSs an opportunity to voice their experiences on campus and share how a student-led organization like the MLSA can lift students up to their full potential and benefit the whole campus.

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