Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dr. Anthony P. Chiarlitti

Second Supervisor

Dr. Arlene Hogan


The purpose of this study was to use a qualitative research design to examine the key factors that influenced nine first-generation African American female alumni to persist past their first year at a private urban college. The goal of this study was to gain insight into the degree of academic involvement and social interaction that firstgeneration African American female alumni had while attending a private urban college and if these factors posed considerable benefits to support the students’ longer term commitments. A phenomenological approach was utilized to explore the experiences of first-generation African American female alumni. The exploration of this study employed semi-structured interviews, which were the primary method used to collect, code, and analyze the data to develop categories and themes. Utilizing a phenomenology approach through the lens of Tinto’s (1973) student attrition and persistence model, the results were consistent with academic involvement and social integration factors that supported academic success. The results of this research study identified seven areas that the participants linked to their academic commitment that ultimately led to their successful college completion. This study includes recommendations regarding how institutions can make improvements on academic programs that contribute to retention as well as strengthen students’ commitment to reach degree attainment. The recommendations include enhancing academic programs that would strengthen the students’ competitive edge to contribute in the future workforce, include senior-level students as guest speakers to improve peer participation in college success courses, and incorporate suggestions from students during academic program planning stages.

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