Date of Graduation

Summer 8-15-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Brent R Ferm, PhD

Second Advisor

Dhara T. Meghani, PhD

Third Advisor

Hsiu-Lan Cheng, PhD


This research aimed to fill the gap in literature by focusing on the experiences of American born Chinese college students that moved from ethnically dense Majority Minority Chinese American Communities (MMCAC) to attend Predominantly White Institution (PWI) college/universities. The study utilized a Grounded Theory qualitative approach, which led to the development of 6 categories or themes from 17 concepts and 48 codes. These were based on data from 10 participants across two phases with two interviews each (initial and follow-up). The 6 themes “Previous MMCAC Environment,” “Identity,” “New PWI Environment,” “Values,” “Transition Experience,” and “Mental Health'' provided the descriptive experience for this population. The context of the MMCAC and PWI environments were further described using Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model in conjunction with Grounded Theory’s Conditional/Consequential Matrix Explanatory Paradigm tool. This resulted in the identification of two participant subgroups and the development of a substantive theory (non-generalized, specific to the defined situations). The prominent subgroup (8 of 10 the participants), defined by Path #1, consisted of participants that preferred to develop communities around peers that identify as Chinese or Asian American while in the PWI environment. The less prominent subgroup, defined by Path #2, consisted of participants that chose to receive support primarily from peers that identify as White (with acknowledgment of their preferences). The clinical implication of these findings provides a guide to mental health providers: to consider identifying the client’s historical relationships within the culture of the prior MMCAC and current PWI environments, and to determine the support around clients’ preferences in navigating pre-existing and new relationships.