Date of Degree


Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)


Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


Kortegast, Carrie

Committee Members

Jaekel, Katy; Hutchings, Quortne


Systemic Racism, Intersectionality, Black Undergraduate Women, African-American Undergraduate Women, Women's Colleges, Retention, Student Success, Participant-Generated Visual Methods


"Leaving My Mark in White Spaces": A Critical Qualitative Case Study Exploring Black/African-American Undergraduate Women's Perceptions of the Campus Environment's Influence on Persistence at a Hispanic-Serving Women's Institution

One of the most overlooked populations in university environments and in research are students who identify as Black/African-American undergraduate women (B/AAUW). B/AAUW experience the intersectionality of both race and gender discrimination in higher education, often leaving these students silenced and marginalized while navigating their college experience. The purpose of this critical qualitative case study was to better understand how B/AAUW perceived the campus environment contributing to their sense of belonging and academic success at a Hispanic-serving, private, women’s university. Data was collected through semi-structured individual interviews with 12 student participants, a creativity session where participants created art describing their experience at the research site, a gallery walk where the university community interacted with participants and their art, and a focus group with member reflection. Five themes emerged from this research: a) lack of representation of Black/African-American women throughout the campus environment mattered; b) enrollment at a Hispanic-serving women’s university uniquely influenced B/AAUW experiences; c) microaggressions and discriminations impacted B/AAUW curricular experiences; d) finding support and using resources was critically important to B/AAUW student success; and e) lack of B/AAUW friendship groups decreased sense of belonging. Findings of this research could be used to create more culturally relevant and responsive environments for the success of B/AAUW.


Northern Illinois University

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