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Experiences of persistence in business education: a retrospective phenomenological analysis of African American alumni




Allen, Aswad A. A., author
Kuk, Linda, advisor
Kees, Nathalie, committee member
Scott, Malcolm, committee member
Anderson, Sharon, committee member

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This qualitative study examined the lived experiences of African American undergraduate business degree alumni from a predominantly White research institution located in the Rocky Mountain region. As national demographics continue to shift (U.S. Department of Education, 2012), developing diverse talent through business education will continue to be a workforce priority. Also with an increased number of business degrees being awarded, understanding the barriers and supports experienced by diverse business students are becoming more important. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the influences and obstacles leading to business degree attainment and employment or graduate study. This study, using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, contained in-depth interviews from ten African American business degree alumni who graduated 2-8 years prior to being interviewed. The overarching question for this study, "What were the "lived experiences" of African American alumni from an undergraduate business degree program during their educational and subsequent education and employment pursuits," was directed by the following four primary research questions: (1) What are the experiences of African American alumni which have led to graduation and employment? (2) What barriers did participants confront during their undergraduate and subsequent education and employment pursuits? (3) What were the support systems that African American alumni experienced during their undergraduate and employment journey? and (4) How did the experiences of persistence inform participants' decisions and actions following graduation (as they pursued either graduate school or employment)? Through data analysis, three major themes emerged: (1) meaningful connections, (2) building relationships, and (3) decisions to continue. Research findings from this study concluded the participant's ability to overcome social, academic, and cultural barriers was achieved by a series of "personal choices" focused on seeking out, engaging, and developing "relevant" personal and institutional supports.


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