African American Female Persisters in Higher Education: The Lived Experience

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dorothy Ettling


Sharon Herbers


Arcelia Johnson-Fannin


Jessica Kimmel


The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of persistence of African American females, raised in Texas, as a catalyst to achieving their educational goals. In the American college/university system, there is an ongoing nation-wide problem as it relates to African American students, their college enrollment, and subsequent matriculation. The number of African American females enrolling in college from year to year is steadily increasing, while the number of African American males enrolling in college on a yearly basis is decreasing. In fact, the numbers are increasing so rapidly that African American females are outpacing African American males on all three-degree levels. The aforementioned information leads to the following question: What are the external and internal factors that contribute to the higher educational success of the African American female? Identification and examination of potential factors that influence some African American females persisting in higher education is the goal of this research. Hopefully, the verbalization of the participants experience, the tragedy and the triumph, will help to facilitate a better understanding of African American females as a whole, and ultimately as a group of persisters who are one-by-one breaking down walls, shattering myths, and perpetuating intellectual activism throughout their communities.

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