Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bond, Bradley G.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


This dissertation examines the cultural and structural barriers justice-involved individuals of color encountered at an urban community college and the construct of stigma as a mechanism for creating cultural and structural barriers. Additionally, this study explores justice-involved individuals’ sense of belonging and self-efficacy as community college students. Findings revealed that all justice-involved individuals participating in the study encountered barriers. Despite the cultural and structural barriers participants encountered, many expressed a positive sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and “gifts” based on their newly discovered purpose as college students. Cultural and structural barriers, as well as a new sense of pride and purpose, present several implications for higher education professionals, policy makers, and researchers to consider.

This dissertation contains four chapters, beginning with an introduction to the problem, a review of literature, and a detailed explanation of the research methods used to conduct the study. Second, a full discussion of the findings using participant accounts is provided. Third, implications and recommendations are presented based on the findings and review of existing research discussed in the literature review. Finally, the dissertation includes a synthesized version of the study for academic journal submission and publication.


198 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type