Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


David Edgell


Mentorship, Career Development, Career Progression, Leadership, Air Force Female Officers, African American Female Officers, Mentoring, Relationships


Christianity | Leadership Studies


Mentorship has emerged as a critical component for the cultivation and development of leaders. Mentoring is beneficial for the mentee and mentor both personally and professionally. The United States Air Force (USAF) encourages formal and informal mentoring for their leaders through initiatives and regulations. Other branches emphasize leadership development; whereas, the USAF emphasizes career development. While African American female officers of faith continue to hold leadership positions, it is unclear whether mentorship serves as a factor of success. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and understand the lived experience of African American female officers in the USAF regarding the impact of mentorship received in their career development and progression. Further, this study explored the role of personal faith as a potential factor in the mentorship experience. The data collected during this research consisted of interviews and observations. Face-to-face interviews conducted via Zoom were the preferred method, in which the interviewer and participants were key instruments. Participants shared their lived experiences and feelings as experts on the phenomenon of how mentorship affected their career development and progression. Observations were applied to identify gestures, body language, or cues. During the research, an officer is generally defined as a person who holds a position of authority as a Company and Field Grade Officer or above. Additionally, this research referred to persons of faith; however, there is no implication made to any particular denomination or religious affiliation. The theories that guided this study were mentor role theory and social cognitive theory.