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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Candy S. McCorkle
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Counselor Education / Counseling Psychology
Title: First-Generation, African American Students’ Experiences of Persisting at a Predominantly White Liberal Arts College
Dr. Donna Talbot, Chair
Dr. Diane Anderson
Dr. Douglas Davidson
Date: Friday, July 6, 2012 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
2211 Sangren Hall
Colleges and universities are currently tracking the generational status of students in order to gain a better understanding of how this factor impacts student retention and persistence. This phenomenological study provides narratives from five, first-generation, African American students who attend a predominantly White liberal arts college in the Midwest. Their stories offer snapshots of the college experience and delineate how that experience impacts a student’s life and motivation to persist academically. After analyzing and coding individual audio-taped interviews with these five students, six themes emerge. The data have been reviewed by an external auditor to ensure researcher objectivity.
The first-generation, African American students in this study persist despite facing isolation and discrimination in their predominantly White campus community. Significant factors influencing their ability to persist include: forming mentoring relationships with White faculty, receiving support from other African American students and Black student groups, and developing their individual identities.
Finally, the limitations of this study are detailed and recommendations identified for future research on first-generation students. Recommendations for ways in which colleges and universities might use this study to improve services for all students emphasize the need to provide more diverse role models by hiring additional Black and African American faculty and staff.