Date of Award

Summer 8-29-2023

Degree Name

Master of Arts


American Studies


"Making it in America: Understanding the American Dream in Trump's America" is a comprehensive study of the American Dream's complexities in West Texas. Spanning from the 2016 presidential election to the present, the thesis explores how individuals from diverse backgrounds pursue the American Dream in a region dominated by the oil industry and unique cultural dynamics.

Using ethnographic interviews, primary sources, oral histories, and visual analysis, the research unveils the experiences of Ana Maria Jimenez, Stephanie Carrasco, Maricela Fuentez, David Whaley, and Emmanuel Rojas, representing a cross-section of West Texas. They offer valuable insights into the region's challenges and opportunities.

Chapter 1 explores the formation of Hispanic conservative political identities, revealing the intersection of upward mobility and political affiliations. Chapter 2 delves into the untold stories of women in the West Texas oil industry, with a focus on Maricela Fuentez and her struggle against traditional gender roles. Chapter 3 investigates the ambivalent approach to education, featuring narratives from David Whaley, a Black educator, and Emmanuel Rojas, a young adult transitioning from university to the oil industry.

This thesis deepens our understanding of the American Dream in Trump's America and underscores West Texas as a microcosm of America's diverse communities. It tells a story of hope, struggle, and triumph, offering a fresh perspective on what "making it" in America truly means.