Term of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Juliann McBrayer

Committee Member 1

Cordelia Zinskie

Committee Member 2

Kristen Dickens


As colleges and universities continue to increase their enrollment and diversification of their student body, the number of first-generation college students of color will continue to rise. Colleges have been charged with the challenge of not only enrolling this student population but also ensuring that they are connected to the university and persist to graduation. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to examine the lived experiences of first-generation college students of color at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI). The overarching research question of this study examined how first-generation college students of color experienced college at a PWI.

A demographic questionnaire, individual in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions were utilized to capture the first-hand experiences of the participants. Phenomenological and qualitative data analysis strategies were employed, and Critical Race Theory was utilized as a lens to understand the experiences of these students of color. Four major themes were revealed: (1) college degree is a means to a better lifestyle, (2) money always matters, (3) heightened sense of safety concerns, and (4) desire for a supportive multicultural campus environment. The results of this study may aid institutional leaders in understanding the first-generation college student of color experience at a PWI and assist in establishing and maintaining academic and social support programs that are geared towards first-generation college students of color.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material