Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Patricia A. Mitchell

Second Advisor

Walter Gmelch

Third Advisor

Richard Johnson, III


California community colleges are facing serious obstacles in relation to students of color achieving academic success. African American men see the community college as a pathway toward economic and social mobility; however, collectively they have disparate outcomes in every conceivable marker of success; persistence, achievement, transfer, completion. The live experiences of academically successful community college student athletes may hold key factors that can assist all African American males in their journey toward academic success. Even though research is limited, it is suggested that student athletes at the community college achieve their academic goals at higher rates than their nonathlete peers.

Rebuking the deficit model that often drives research pertaining to students of color, the purpose of this study was to (a) explore the perceptions of successful African American male community college student athletes and their sense of campus culture (i.e., environment/belonging) as it pertains to academic success, and (b) to explore the successful African American male community college student athletes’ perspective of support services factors that influenced completion of their academic goal. A total of 11 African American male student athletes were sampled from community colleges in northern and southern California. This qualitative study used semi-structured interviews to explore each participants’ perceptions of factors of success. The data was categorized into three overarching themes; (a) perceived factors of success, (b) the role of student support services; and (c) campus culture and environment. This study provides key insight on the key factors that influence successful completion of a certificate, associate’s degree, or transfer to a 4 year college for African American male student athletes enrolled in community college. This research study was designed to honor the lived experiences of African American male student athletes who have persisted and were successful at the California community college. Their journey towards academic success is valued as legitimate knowledge.

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