School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Susan R. Quindag


DACA, community college, support services, validation theory, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, higher education


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand community college faculty and staff members’ experiences of providing support services to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The theory that guided this study was Rendon’s validation theory - as students are validated and made to feel valuable, they will foster personal and social development. This study explored three of the six elements of validation theory through the following research questions: 1. In what ways are faculty and staff at the institution acting as validation agents for DACA students? 2. What initiatives or steps do validating agents take to engage with DACA students on campus? 3. How does validation from out-of-class agents influence DACA students’ academic and social success? Respondents included ten staff participants and six student participants with DACA status from a community college in South Carolina. Data from participants were obtained through interviews, photovoice, and a focus group. Data analysis resulted in six themes and one subtheme - sympathy and empathy, communication with the subtheme, lack of communication, disclosure of DACA status, knowledge of policies, DACA hardships, and equal treatment. Staff recognized ways they validate and engage students. Staff participants and DACA students discussed financial issues. Furthermore, staff participants stated that to support DACA students, they need to be made aware of a student’s DACA status, which is not available. A conclusion is that there is a disconnect between the services staff believe they are providing and what DACA students feel they are receiving.