School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


Joy Mwendwa


Persistent, African American/ Black women, ancestral, counselor education and supervision (CES), legacy trail


Counseling | Education


This qualitative study examined the retrospective experiences of seven African American/Black (AA/Black) women who graduated from a Counselor Education and Supervision (CES) doctoral program, accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The purpose of the study was to investigate ancestral links to their persistence. This study obtained data from semi-structured individual interviews, a focus group, and PhotoVoice pursuit. Through these different methods of data collection, the validity of the study was increased. The research problem identified was that the CES doctoral degree attrition rate remains stagnated (approximately 50%) and the rate for AA/Black women are even significantly lower (approximately 20.24%). Thus, the most salient factors for persistence have yet to be uncovered. Although studies on persistence have been replicated, AA/Black women and their ancestral persistence has been excluded. A thematic analysis of the core data revealed five themes: inherited persistence, family persistence, ancestral persistence part of sense-of-self, legacy trail, and advice to persist. The study revealed that in the face of tremendous pressure and overwhelming experiences of diverse stressors, inherent when earning a CES doctoral degree, AA/Black women are persisting by utilizing their ancestral persistence, term coined within this study. Additionally, this work leaves an academic trail for other AA/Black women to follow in pursuit of their CES doctoral degree.