Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Amy D.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Northern Illinois University. CHANCE Program; African Americans--Education (Higher)--Illinois--De Kalb--Attitudes--Case studies


The purpose of this study is to understand the experiences of 20 African Americans who graduated from Northern Illinois University, a predominantly White institution, with the assistance of CHANCE (Counseling Help and Assistance Necessary for a College Education), an educational opportunity program (EOP). This case study focused on the long-term perceptions of these alumni and included an indepth examination of their adult life experiences over the past three decades. The following research questions guided this study: 1) What are these African Americans’ adult perceptions about changes in consciousness they experienced as a result of their participation in the CHANCE program? 2) What meanings do African American adults attach to their participation in EOPs, such as CHANCE, after time has passed? 3) How do African American adult alumni perceive their career paths and career choices? 4) Which situations identified by these African Americans have enabled them to achieve social mobility during their adulthood? Methods used to collect data for this qualitative study included interviews with alumni and key administrators who were connected to the CHANCE program, followup telephone interviews, distribution of a demographic data questionnaire, and extensive use of field notes. Data analysis was conducted through the constant comparative method and indicated that the findings could be best presented thematically. Themes emerging from the interviews were ambivalence, perseverance and survival, faith in God, and social responsibility. These themes were based on the rich experiences of the alumni who still maintained some kind of connection with their NIU/CHANCE experience. The findings from this study suggest that during the time these alumni were students many had arrived on campus underprepared due to the poor quality of their secondary education experience, their socioeconomic status, and their developmental age. In spite of the obstacles confronting them they experienced developmental growth based on their involvement with the services provided by CHANCE and their willingness to navigate the hostile predominantly White campus environment. As a result they were able to persevere by overcoming the odds stacked against them and persist to graduation. For all participants, selfdevelopment and perseverance were highly regarded and important influences on their lives as African American learners. Other findings included a critical change in their adult consciousness, the use of prior knowledge to influence their meaning of life experience, the achievement of various levels of career success based on personal and professional development goals, and the ability to show a connection between the equal opportunity battles they fought on a predominantly White college campus and those they continue to fight in the workplace.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [144]-155).


xv, 167 pages




Northern Illinois University

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