ABSTRACT With projections indicating that by the year 2025, one of every four K-12 students in the United States will be Latino, addressing the needs of Latino students is an important question for educators. This study approached this question through an analysis of the educational life histories, stories, of successful first generation Mexican-American college graduates to understand some of the factors which helped them succeed in college. I categorized the stories inductively into three themes: 1) stories of students and school, 2) stories of friends, family, and cultural communities, and 3) stories about race and politics. Participants' intellectual self-concept, both positive and negative, was to a great extent influenced by the messages they received from the educational system. Some of the participants took a traditional path from high school through college, while others took very indirect paths. The support that they received from special programs at the university as well as from their webs of support was crucial in their success. In addition, I found that race mattered when the participants transitioned from their majority Latino high schools to the majority white university as the participants told stories of navigating the cultural and racial dynamics of their status as college students. The participants in my study worked hard to achieve their college degrees. "It's hard" was a phrase often repeated by all participants; hard work was also a cultural value passed on by hard working parents and family members. Stories of luck, both good and bad, factored into their educational life histories. Collaborative programs between secondary school and the university were helpful in creating a transitional bridge for the participants as were culturally-based mentoring programs. The participants benefitted from the culturally-based support they received at the university and the cultural and emotional support of their families. The participants' stories highlight the importance of a race-conscious approach to college going; one which begins with race and builds cross-racial coalitions. This approach would benefit Latino students and, ultimately improve the college going experiences of all students.