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Winning When the Odds are Against You:
A Narrative Inquiry of African-American Female Persistence at a Predominantly White Institution

African-American females are enrolling and graduating college at rising rates and outpacing their male counterparts to graduation. While their graduation rates increase, narratives of their journeys to and through college are sparse in the literature. This qualitative study examines the narratives of persistence of 10 Black female undergraduates enrolled at a Mid-Western Predominantly White Institution (PWI). Through the lenses of Crenshaw’s intersectionality and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, this study explores factors that impede or promote persistence through the socio-environmental contexts of Black female undergraduates' journeys to and through a PWI. Using a semi-structure interview protocol participants share stories of persistence beginning from childhood. Interview data underscore family context, faith, and issues of race, gender, and class as influential factors of persistence toward graduation at a PWI. Implications for practice and research are presented, and recommendations for administrators and practitioners are offered.


Committee Members: Dr. Ty-Ron Douglas (Chair), Dr. Jennifer Fellabaum-Toston, Dr. Casandra  Harper Morris, and Dr. Michael Williams

Sponsored by the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis

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