Date of Graduation

Winter 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Betty Taylor

Second Advisor

Emma Fuentes

Third Advisor

Onllwyn Dixon


African American women have been silhouetted. They have been reduced to a one dimensional version of themselves and defined by societies White – male hegemonic background. Currently, limited research exists on the experiences of African American (AA) women graduate students from an Afrocentric perspective. Despite the increase enrollment of AA women in higher education, barriers to degree completion still persist as evidenced by the lower rates of graduation. The lack of AA women in higher education demonstrates that the literature holds a minority position not unlike that of AA women in society. Subsequently, the accomplishments, challenges and overall experiences of these students are missing. To date, both scholarly literature and educational praxis have dimensional voids in addressing the needs of women of African descent in the academy. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe and understand the experiences of African American women graduate students by elevating their voices. The two mechanisms of Black Feminist Thought: Matrix of domination and intersectionality were used to understand the women’s experiences in the context of being Black first, gendered a woman second and then the issues that arise from a textured life where intersections of identity occur. This study addresses the gap in research by not only drawing attention to statistical outcomes as reported by National reporting agencies on student academic success but also brings to the surface the lived experiences of AA women graduate students with respect to how they see their epistemological selves. The researcher used both a survey and interviews to highlight the ways institutions further marginalize AA women graduate students. Finally, this study provides recommendations rooted in the African philosophy of Ubuntu to affirm these women and thus affirm our own humanity. Recommendations are shared in relation to faculty and staff working with AA women graduation students, institutional policy and practice, and reconceptualizing human rights.


African American Studies