Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Felecia Commodore

Committee Member

Alan M. Schwitzer


African American women utilize the community college environments as an avenue to attain an education and eventually pursue career and educational goals while remaining in their own communities. However, not much is known about the unique perceptions and experiences of African American women impacting their enrollment and persistence at rural community colleges. The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive research study was to examine the reasons African American female students choose to enroll and attend a rural community college to further their education and persist towards graduation with an Associate degree.

The data were collected using semi-structure individual interviews. Twelve African American women were study participants from one rural community college in the Southeastern United States. A literature review revealed gaps in the research where African American female students attending rural community colleges is missing from academia. Two research questions were investigated to determine the reasons this student population chose to enroll in a rural community college and the factors that lead to persistence.

Using the theoretical frameworks of the Conceptual Model of Black Women College Student Success. The following four themes emerged from the research: (a) Breaking Institutional Barriers Encourages Marginalized Students (b) Rural Community College Culture (c) More Representation of Black females on Rural Community College Campuses and (d) Personal Resiliency is Key to Black Female College Student Success. Each theme produced subthemes that detailed the unique lived experiences of African American/Black female students attending rural community college campuses persisting towards their Associate degree.

The findings of the present study provided data to rural community college administrators, faculty and staff members, college board members, and others who are interested in developing a model of support and enhance the rural community college experience and success for African American female students. This study provides African American females students the knowledge and means for persisting towards and Associate degree while maneuvering with academic and life challenges.


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