Purdue University Graduate School
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(Final) Natalie Witherspoon Dissertation.pdf (1.3 MB)

TAKE MY HAND, LEAD ME ON: AN ANALYSIS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS’ AND MENTORS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THE IMPACT OF THEIR MENTORSHIP COMMUNITY ON COLLEGE PERSISTENCE AT A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE INSTITUTION

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thesis
posted on 2023-04-26, 13:26 authored by Natalie Ann WitherspoonNatalie Ann Witherspoon

  

Mentorship has served as an effective strategy in helping African American college students persist at predominantly White institutions of higher education (Sinanan, 2016). African American students have reported finding these campus environments to be unwelcoming, even racist. These environmental challenges along with the challenges of unfamiliar academic terrain merge to form frequently formidable barriers to their satisfaction and success. The presence of African American mentors has helped African American students overcome the wide range of challenges they face on such campuses. This qualitative study analyzed the perceptions of African American mentors and mentees about the impact of mentorship on the college persistence of the mentees. The target mentorship community was situated at a private school in the Midwest. Semi-structured interviews were used to solicit the experiential knowledge of participants about their lived experiences. The data was codified and thematically analyzed. Six themes emerged from participant responses including (1) targeted mentorship and modeling, (2) belonging, (3) connections (4) advocacy, (5) racism and anti-Blackness, and (6) persistence. These themes fortify the existing research affirming mentorship as an invaluable tool in helping African American undergraduates persist through degree completion. The assertions and recommendations at the conclusion of the study are purposed to assist scholar-activists, university staff, and students with improving the conditions in which African American students’ study and push toward persistence.

History

Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Department

  • Educational Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Marilyn Hirth

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

LaMonica Williams

Additional Committee Member 2

Alice Johnson

Additional Committee Member 3

Richard Olenchak