Purdue University Graduate School
2021.12.9 Pursuit is Purpose Dissertation Final_Donovan Colquitt.pdf (1.22 MB)

Pursuit Is Purpose: A Critical Autoethnography of One Black Man's Journey Through Engineering Education

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posted on 2021-12-19, 21:11 authored by Donovan ColquittDonovan Colquitt

Black men experience numerous systemic challenges in pursuit of their education, yet they also possess strength to achieve academic goals. The purpose of this autoethnographic study is to describe the meaning of my experiences at an undergraduate engineering program at a historically White institution to increase awareness of the ways that Black men experience undergraduate engineering programs at historically White institutions. The overarching research question is: How do I make meaning of the formative experiences along my engineering education journey at an historically White institution through the lens of African American Male Theory? To answer this question, I chose critical autoethnography because it enabled me to use my role as the researcher along with my own experiences as part of the topic and group of study. Through this methodology, I described my experiences through the lens of African American Male Theory, which was not available to me at the time the events were occurring. I analyzed personal memory data (e.g., poems, speeches, applications, resumes and interview transcripts) and my researcher journal to provide a thorough personal account of my collegiate experiences and relative perspectives on those experiences. The findings of this study provide an in-depth understanding of how I experienced an engineering program at an HWI in such a way that offers insights to better support Black men in engineering. As such, this study calls for holistic support for Black male students in engineering through interventions such as culturally relevant curriculum, narrative evaluation, standards of inclusion for classrooms, culturally competent counselors, and hiring minoritized faculty. Finally, this study appeals for more research to investigate how Black men experience freedom while pursuing their engineering degree at HWIs.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Engineering Education

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Monica Cardella

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Kerrie Douglas

Additional Committee Member 2

Stephanie Masta

Additional Committee Member 3

Christopher G. Wright