Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Christopher R. Glass

Committee Member

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Michael Kosloski


Informal mentoring relationships that develop out of frequent and meaningful interaction with faculty and staff are powerful tools that can help community college students persist and succeed in achieving not only their educational goals but their future economic mobility as well (Komosa-Hawkins, 2012; Phillippo, 2010; Zimmerman et al., 2002). Students are more likely to be successful when they can identify and interact with someone on campus who they relate to, can count on for support, and who affirms their sense of belonging (Rendón, 1994).

The purpose of this grounded theory study was to identify conditions conducive to the development of informal mentoring relationships between students and faculty and staff at community colleges. Interviews were conducted with 46 faculty, staff, and students at one large Hispanic-serving community college. While the researcher did identify conditions that help and hinder relationship building, the biggest takeaway from the study was a theory involving the role of informal mentoring relationships in students’ structural resiliency. Structural Resiliency Theory asserts that the ability to overcome negative interpersonal interactions is reliant on three interdependent factors: (a) The breadth and depth of one’s personal support system; (b) the collective level of positivity in one’s previous interpersonal interactions; and (c) the combination of one’s motivation, self-confidence, and perseverance. Informal mentors help community college students thrive in the face of adversity by strengthening their structural resiliency. An informal mentor can be a transformative presence in the life of a community college student.


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