Civil Rights Movement
Faculty/Staff Development
Internalized Oppression
Racism/Racial Justice
White Privilege

Laura Rendón is nationally recognized as an education theorist, activist and researcher who specializes in college preparation, persistence and graduation of low-income, first-generation students.

A native of Laredo, Texas, Rendón's passion is assisting students who, like her, grew up in poverty with hopes and dreams but not knowing how to realize them. Rendón is credited with developing the theory of validation, which colleges and researchers have employed as a framework for working with and affirming low-income students.

Rendón is a teaching and learning philosopher and thought leader. She developed a pedagogic framework called Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy that emphasizes intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual student development along with social activism.

Rendón is an active scholar whose research has been published in key education research journals. She is also the author of Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation. Moreover, she is co-editor of books and monographs including: Transforming the First Year of College for Students of Color; Educating a New Majority; Introduction to American Higher Education; and Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Higher Education ASHE Reader.

She is co-director of the Center for Research and Policy in Education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas in San Antonio, which engages in research that informs the education community about critical factors that affect the academic success of key student groups.

She is also one of the founders and former Board Chair of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (Washington, DC) focused on providing access to college for low-income students. She has served on the Board of Trustees for Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Further, Rendón has designed and coordinated the yearly Latino/a Student Success Institute for the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, the nation's premier scholarly organization focusing on higher education issues impacting Latinos.

As a leader in the field of college access and achievement, Rendón's research has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the PBS documentary, "The College Track." Rendón is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities throughout the nation on topics related to improving persistence and completion.


"Laura is a leading scholar in the areas of social justice and diversity."

— Jerry Thomas, interim dean of the College of Education, Iowa State University

On behalf of my staff and all of the faculty attendees of your workshop, my sincere thank you for your visit to Grand Valley. Many positive comments have come my way with regards to your content and message, but also your skillful facilitation. Know that there will be continued work and lasting impact, all in support of student success. 
— Christine Rener, Grand Valley State University
"Laura is wonderful! Her warmth and authenticity is unbelievable! So powerful!”
— Isaac Tesfay, Worcester State University, MA
I must share that you have truly left an impression on our campus.  I've received feedback from several campus constituents that they would like to explore ways in which they can adopt pieces of your lecture in their classes, workshops, etc.  In fact, I have participated in several conversations in which your work was referenced.  THANK YOU.
— Isaac Tesfay, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, Affirmative Action, and Equal Opportunity, Worcester State University, MA

Student Success with Focus on Latinos and Low-Income, First-Generation Students
Keynote and workshop presentations on this topic focus on the academic success of low-income, first generation students in community colleges and four-year institutions. The presentations also address validation theory as a way to affirm students’ ability to learn and to feel a sense of belonging and caring.  Attention is also given to the development of asset-based frameworks and high-impact practices to work with underserved student populations. Sample presentations under this topic include:

  • Leveraging Student Strengths to Foster Success
  • Fostering Success for [email protected] Students in Community Colleges
  • Validation Theory and Student Success

Contemplative Education
Keynotes and workshops on this topic focus on introducing and working with a “sentipensante (sensing/thinking) pedagogy” that emphasizes wholeness, contemplative practice and social change. Participants are guided in the development of reflective, experiential learning experiences for culturally diverse learners. Sample presentations under this topic include:

  • Contemplative Engagement: Teaching and Learning for Wholeness and Social Change
  • Contemplative Engagement: A Pedagogy of Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation
  • Embracing Vulnerability and Empowerment in the Quest for Liberation
  • The Art and Science of Contemplative Teaching & Learning
  • Contemplative Education & Diverse Ways of Knowing