Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development

First Advisor

Estrada-Hernández, Noel

First Committee Member

Wadsworth, John

Second Committee Member

Ehly, Michael

Third Committee Member

Tarvydas, Vilia

Fourth Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy


The literature on multiculturalism and career counseling (Harro, 2010) has extensively documented the role and influence of environments such as school in the perpetuation of behavioral attitudes like discrimination and racism. Indeed, researchers suggested that early racial discrimination experiences in school may lead African Americans to believe that their education will not benefit them because of the many perceived racial barriers associated with professional careers and employment success (O’Hara et. al., 2011).

Due to effects of such experiences, African American students are likely take the path of academic underachievement and low participation in higher education. It is, therefore, of great importance that rehabilitation, school, and college counselors understand the effects of racism on the lives of African Americans. More important, the effects of stress related to the potential experiences of racism on the attainment of a vocational or career goal should be understood. Hence, the purpose of this study was to explore whether there is a relationship between race- related stress and the occupational planning and confidence of African American college students in a predominantly White institution.

Results of the present study suggest that participants of the present study are on their way of demonstrating elements of self-efficacy (Lent, Brown, &Hackett, 2000), by the fact that the majority of them have already selected a major area of study. This may suggest that the process of career selection is well on its way from career selection to career confidence or implementation. It is noteworthy the number of majors selected and how many of them are in careers of high demand like engineering. Results from the present study also suggest that participants perceive race related stress variables in the domains of cultural and institutional racism, as having a moderate association with their career importance.

This may be interpreted as African American students who participated on this study perceive that stress experienced due to issues related to cultural and organizational racism are an important factor that should be considered when choosing a career. Data also suggests that race-related stress does not affect the career confidence of African American students who participated on this study. As a group, participants of this study do not seem prepared to or have made a plan for achieving a career path as indicated by the lower scores and negative correlations in the Career Planning area.

This is an important finding and although out of the scope of this study, lack of access to resources like career counseling or guidance may be an indicator or potential explanation for this finding. Although sample size was one of the limitations of this study, future research should try to replicate this study and further explore the potential relationship between experiencing race-related stress and the selection and implementation of a career plan.

Public Abstract

This research study addresses three types of race-related stress its participants may face during the career development process: individual, cultural, and institutional. All three reflect a traditional expectation that African-Americans will select career paths that require manual labor and other skills, but not a higher education degree. The study addresses the impact of all three types of racism in the three areas of developing a career planning, believing in its importance and confidence.

Existing research suggests that, as with all demographics in college, some African-Americans seek the services of a career counselor as a crucial part of career planning. However, traditional counseling tenets based on procedures implemented originally to serve Caucasian males may not address others’ needs; in the case of African-American students, this may reflect deficiencies in understanding of the nature of racism. Findings from this study have the possibility of providing counselors the tools they need to remedy this deficiency by identifying the values and beliefs African-American young adults hold dear to ensure they will be empowered to overcome barriers that might impede their progression to enroll and complete college and ultimately in the world of work.


publicabstract, African-American students, career counseling, career development, race-related stress


x, 74 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 64-66).


Copyright 2015 Dwaine Tito Turner