Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2016

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 02/23/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development

First Advisor

Susannah M. Wood

First Committee Member

David K Duys

Second Committee Member

Stewart W Ehly

Third Committee Member

Carol K Smith

Fourth Committee Member

Sherry K Watt


The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the experiences of high-ability, Black, female college freshmen when preparing for college to identify influences from various family, school, and community environments. Using a theoretical framework, which incorporates both Kimberlé Crenshaw’s intersectionality and Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory in an orientational manner as a guide to examine literature related to the multiple identities and experiences potentially shared by the participants and to generate the interview questions to collect data and explore their experiences as broadly as possible. To explore these experiences, the researcher conducted in-depth individual interviews of ten Black female freshmen and two focus groups of six of those ten freshmen who are high ability and from low-income households. The participants answered questions to learn more about experiences that influenced their processes preparing for college. These perspectives may help inform the development of interventions, programs, counseling practices aimed at helping students with shared identities.

Findings from this qualitative research study revealed that intrinsic and extrinsic motivating experiences and relationships across multiple contexts within the participants’ lives have contributed to their process of preparing for college. Nine themes emerged from the participants’ responses: (1) navigating the “crooked room”: perceptions of self; (2) prophetic excellence: family and friends support and expectations, (3) it takes a village: community culture and resources, (4) from chaperone to mentor: exploring the depth of K-12 educational interactions and opportunities, (5) preparing for a home away from home: college exploration and preparation, (6) demystifying the process: I don’t know what I do or don’t need to know, (7) calibrating to fit and understand new environments, (8) and still I rise: acknowledgement of systemic issues, and (9) hindsight 20/20: if I knew then what I know now. Implications for practice and future research are included.


Black/African American, Career Readiness, Female, Intersectionality, School Counseling, Systems Theory


xv, 219 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 192-219).


Copyright © 2016 Janice Arlene Byrd

Available for download on Saturday, February 23, 2019