Erin H. York

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Christian K. Anderson


This dissertation employed arts-based research design and critical race theory’s method of counter-storytelling to 1) challenge the deficit-based discourse about two-year colleges, most commonly known as junior, community, and technical colleges, that is present in popular culture, and to 2) embrace community cultural wealth at two-year colleges. The study takes the form of arts-based research through the design of the novel, Inlet, where each chapter explores thematically aspects of two-year colleges’ community cultural wealth. Previous studies on the effect of popular culture’s portrayals of two-year colleges confirmed students, faculty, staff, and various other stakeholders held harmful stereotypes and biases against two-year colleges. Deficit and farcical narratives about two-year colleges negatively influence stakeholders’ attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. Prior studies issued a call for educators and creatives, alike, to challenge popular culture’s representations of two-year colleges; however, no study until this one has answered that call. Inlet is a new kind of novel in which stakeholders at all levels can engage with two-year colleges’ community cultural wealth. Inlet disrupts popular culture’s portrayals of two-year colleges and creates a counter-story that situates two-year colleges as 1) vital to America’s system of higher education, as 2) institutions that disrupt the systemic marginalization of certain populations in society, and as 3) of the upmost importance to their communities and people they serve.


© 2022, Erin H. York