Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Tiffeny Jiménez

Second Advisor

Dr. Ericka Mingo

Third Advisor

Dr. Judah Viola


Cross-age relationships between youth and adults that develop organically outside the construct of youth programs are examples of natural mentoring relationships. In the United States, research has demonstrated the positive impact of these mentorships. Scholars have begun applying concepts learned from natural mentoring to formal mentoring schema; however, much work is yet to be done in examining how these relationships emerge and the factors that impact their development. Designed in partnership with a private secondary school in rural México, this study aimed to unpack these questions using a grounded theory approach. Current students, alumni, and teachers participated in the study through semi-structured interviews. Data from the interviews were analyzed through open, axial, and selective coding. Critical realism was used as an organizing principle during the selective coding process. Three core categories emerged from the data–factors of readiness, approaches of engagement, and states of alignment. These constructs in conjunction with influences of group-level and community-level factors make up a rudimentary framework for the emergence of natural mentoring relationships.