School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Todd Schultz


Black women, trauma, doctoral persistence, higher education, (predominantly white institution) PWI, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)


Social and Behavioral Sciences


As evidenced by the average doctoral student turnover rate, pursuing a doctorate degree may be exceedingly difficult. African American women (AAW) in particular, tend to face unique challenges in higher education due to their gender and racial identities, yet because of their perceived success in comparison to their Black male counterparts, their doctoral experiences at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) frequently go overlooked. Furthermore, considering the impact that trauma can have on higher education success, it is crucial to better understand the intricate nature of the doctoral experiences of AAW to determine how to further facilitate their success. To add to the existing literature, the present qualitative phenomenological study sought to amplify the doctoral experiences of eight AAW and how they describe the meaning of graduating with a doctoral degree from a PWI. The personal narratives of these Black women were collected via semi-structured interviews and summarized utilizing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, guided by the conceptual frameworks of Black Feminist Thought (Collins, 1989) and Critical Race Theory (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). Study implications, limitations and suggested future directions are also discussed.