This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

In Her Own Voice: A Narrative Study of the Persistence Strategies of Eight African American Women Vice Presidents for Student Affairs at Predominately White Institutions




Hylton, Dahlia

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


This narrative study explored the personal and professional experiences of eight African American women vice presidents for student affairs (VPSA) employed at predominately White institutions (PWIs) and the persistence strategies they used while working at a PWI. Through the use of narrative inquiry methods, I utilized a purposeful sample of eight full time African American women VPSA to reflect accurately the true experiences of this marginalized group. All participants varied in their educational background, career progression and gained experience in student affairs by their exposure to different facets of university administration. With this newfound information, higher education institutions will be better able to attract and retain African American women administrators to their institutions, thus increasing the scope of diversity. Further, this information could serve as a framework for developing a more diverse presence of student affairs administrators within higher education. The results of this study can provide insights to help higher education institutions develop and improve the recruitment and retention programs for diverse student affairs professionals. Further, each narrative provides other minority student affairs leaders strategies in order to overcome the challenges of being Black and female in a higher education institution. In this study, I used several constructs to facilitate this study such as (a) professional experience, (b) persistence, (c) challenges (d) race and gender, and (e) institutional climate. These constructs served as themes in exploring the experiences that African American women in student affairs encounter. Black Feminist Thought, a critical social theory, aimed to document iii the experiences and thoughts of African American women. Through extensive interviews the following themes emerged from the data of the challenges and persistence strategies: overt racism and sexism, sacrifices with personal life, perception of lack of credibility, maintaining political alliances, staying relevant with professional associations, support networks, perpetual spirituality, promotion of a diverse institution, maintaining a sense of self, and love for student development.