Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

Judy Marquez Kiyama, Ph.D.


African American women, Black feminist thought, High-achiever, Honors programs, Intersectionality, Predominantly white institution


American higher education undergraduate honors programs are respected for the work they do to encourage college students to push themselves towards achievement in learning during their time earning an undergraduate degree. The social movements of the mid-20th century forced open the doors of predominantly white institutions (PWIs) to African American students. Since that time, the number of African American students attending PWIs has increased; however, the research that focused on African American women in higher education, and more specifically honors programs, has not been a significant topic of study. The findings indicate that being the only female person of color in a classroom may not always be a negative experience. Maternal influences, educators, and a strong sense of self and self-motivation are critical to the success of these students. This hermeneutical study sought to understand lived experiences of eight African American women in a collegiate honors program. Combining hermeneutics with Black feminist thought brought to light the rich herstories of the eight participants. Major themes that surfaced in the study included a sense of freedom, self-definition, how they navigated the campus tension they experienced, and how they actualized their Black girl magic. By focusing solely on African American women, this study provides a necessary addition to understanding the unique experiences of these high-achieving individuals in a collegiate setting.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Janell Lindsey


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

258 p.


Education, Gifted education