School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Kelly Gorbett


resilience, academic performance, trauma, Black students, HBCU, ACEs




Few studies have studied the impact of trauma on academic performance and even fewer have studied Black students. Black college students are usually from a lower socioeconomic class which puts them at a greater disadvantage and a higher risk for dropping out of college. This study is a mixed-method research design. Participants included 44 undergraduate students recruited from a university in the Southern U.S. Phase 1 included paper-pencil surveys, and Phase 2 consisted of an open-ended questionnaire, which allowed for a deeper understanding of the lived experiences. This study used a Spearman Correlation to measure the strength of association between ACEs, resilience, and higher GPAs. Results from the statistical analysis indicated that there was no significant relationship between ACEs and academic performance, as measured by first-year GPA. On the contrary, resilience was correlated with both ACEs and GPA. The correlations between ACEs, GPA, and resilience suggests that resilience might be a buffer between childhood adversity and academic performance. Support, faith, and a sense of independence may contribute to academic success for students who had adverse childhood experiences. Furthermore, the results suggest that faith-based programs, positive relationships with staff, and resilience education may promote academic success and long-term professional development.

Included in

Psychology Commons