Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Richard Gray


Dorothy Ettling


David Jurenovich


This dissertation examines the educational experiences of Afghan women in graduate education whose parents are Afghan immigrants. Afghan immigrants are from one of the smallest ethnic groups in the United States and have only started arriving here after the 1980s. Their participation in the educational system has gone largely undocumented. Afghan Americans have been educated in the American system by immigrant parents who have had little experience with this system. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with Afghan American women about education, family, ethnicity, and relationships. The women’s experiences are discussed in the interconnected contexts of the Afghan American experience, the educational system, and in particular graduate education. Being raised in an immigrant home has influenced the women’s encounters with education and the decisions they have made. Issues of resistance and assimilation are considered in this study. Findings from this research include the discovery of five themes that lead to four roles which the women adopt in order to survive graduate school. The women develop these roles in order to find ways to approach their graduate work while maintaining the relationships in their personal lives and their cultural identities. Recommendations are made for further research and applications of research findings.

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