Date of Award

Winter 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Director

Yonghee Suh

Committee Director

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Sue Kimmel


Melguizo and Wolniak (2011) contend that increasing the success of underrepresented minority students in STEM fields is a significant national and state policy issue given the data showing gaps in gender and racial/ethnic bachelors degree completion rates in these fields (Rask, 2010). Recommendations made by the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE, 2013) highlight the importance of school structures as being fundamental for improving the STEM pipeline from high school to college for underrepresented minority students. Thus, the purposes of this study were to describe the lived experiences of African American students attending a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Honors college at a state HBCU (Historical Black College and University) and to generate an understanding of a pipeline from high school to a STEM HBCU in shaping their STEM identities Data for this study were collected through a series of semi-structured interviews from seven students attending a STEM Honors college at a mid-Atlantic HBCU. Phenomenology was employed as a methodology to understand the lived experiences of the participants. Van Maren's (1990) lifeworld existentials were used as a thematic lens to analyze the data. The four lifeworld existentials are: lived time, lived space, lived body and lived others. In coding the data, four themes emerged related to each existential: ability to aspiration, the program as a portal, tensions between race and STEM, and social ties and networks as STEM identity building blocks.