Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dr. Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Dr. Karey T. Pine


The demographics of students who enter colleges and universities across the United States have changed. These changes are seen in the increased numbers of students of color (SoC) that enter colleges and universities in the United States. The enrollment of SoC at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) has increased. Still, SoC disproportionately graduate at lower rates than their White counterparts. Administrators at PWIs continue to grapple with providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for students of color. Lack of academic preparation in their K-12 careers, and transition from larger urban cities to rural communities are challenges that students of color face. However, despite these well documented deficits, there are students of color at PWIs who are academically resilient and successful. Limited research had been conducted on what made a successful experience and what attributed to the success of SoC. To examine this phenomenon, interviews were conducted with graduates who were SoC from PWIs in rural environments. Nine participants shared that they experienced challenges with moving from an urban to a rural environment. Several themes emerged from the analysis. Three key findings emerged from the study. The first finding was that there is an inadequate transition or onboarding process for SoC at PWIs in a rural environment. The second finding revealed the importance of opportunity programs such as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). Finding three emphasized the importance of relationships and their integral role in the success of SoC.

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