Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Catherine Glenn

Committee Director

Alan Meca

Committee Member

James Paulson

Committee Member

Tony Perez


First-generation college students (FGCS) comprise of over half of the U.S. higher education student population, yet have considerably lower academic attainment rates compared to non-FGCS. Research has explored challenges that may attribute to these academic disparities, however, there remains a critical gap in identifying FGCS assets that may ameliorate these disparities. Addressing this gap, the current study examined the role of cultural identity, which has shown to have a positive impact on college students’ academic achievement and well-being, as a key asset for FGCS. Specifically, the current study examined the unique effects of various cultural identity domains (i.e., ethnic, U.S., and FGCS identity) and identified unique configurations of cultural identity among 459 current FGCS (Mage = 24.4 years, SD = 8.2) enrolled at a large, racially diverse, urban university who identified as Black (47.1%) or White (52.9%). Overall, results yielded that cultural identity dimensions were positively associated with psychosocial adjustment, but were not significantly associated with academic achievement. In addition, utilizing multigroup path analyses, these findings were found to be equivalent across ethnic-racial groups. Utilizing latent profile analyses (LPA), three profiles for the full sample (i.e., Diffused, Negative Moratorium, and Developed), three profiles for the Black subsample (i.e., Diffused, Diffused Negative, and Developed), and four profiles for the White subsample (i.e., Diffused, Negative Moratorium, Foreclosed, and Undifferentiated) were identified. Further, individuals in the profiles with the highest levels of cultural identity (i.e., Developed and Foreclosed) reported the highest levels of psychosocial adjustment, highlighting the importance of a positively developed cultural identity. These findings support the proposed integrative intersectional cultural identity capital framework, which posits that the intersectional identities can serve as cultural wealth assets to FGCS.


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