Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Josephine Moffett

Second Supervisor

Janice Girardi


First-generation African American students are graduating from college at lower rates than their White counterparts. Researchers have identified factors such as having kids, being a minority, and socioeconomic status as reasons that may hinder a first-generation African American student from completing college. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that led to the academic success of first-generation African American students from predominantly White institutions. The study employed qualitative methodology, specifically, a phenomenological approach. It found that first-generation African American graduates succeeded by being involved in clubs, student government, being an athlete or a Resident Assistant. This study also showed that the graduates formed bonds with both White and African American administrators who served as their support system. The graduates mentioned creating their own programs to feel included on campus. The graduates suggested institutions do more programming geared towards creating a sense of belonging and provide their administrators with the resources to support them throughout all 4 years. Although previous studies refer to first-generation students as coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds, that was not the case for the graduates in this study.

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