Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Spencer Platt


The purpose of this study was to understand the journey to college completion for low-income Black females enrolled at the community college. Specifically, this phenomenological interview study sought to understand how low-income Black females define academic success and how the intersectionality of their racial/ethnic, gender, and social class identities promote or hinder their journey to college completion.

Data were gathered from interviews with 13 participants from three community colleges in South Carolina. A phenomenological design helped to answer three research questions: 1) How do low-income Black females in the community college describe and make sense of their journey to college completion? 2) How does the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status affect completion for low-income Black females at the community college? 3) How do low-income Black females in the community college define academic success? The findings from this study can guide discussions about how to best serve Black females in the community college.

A thematic analysis of the interview data revealed four themes. The first theme, Ambition, describes the strength and determination that participants possessed and relied on to guide them to completion. The second theme, Support, gives insight into the various support systems that helped participants in their journey to completion. The third theme, Balance, details the ways that participants managed school and other life responsibilities. The fourth theme, Campus Experience, describes the participant experiences at the community college, including the campus environment and culture. Findings from this study are significant for community colleges looking to improve completion rates of Black females and better understand their experiences as they progress towards completion.


© 2019, Rosline M. Sumpter