With a considerable focus to increase America’s degree completion rates amongst our diverse population, higher education policymakers and researchers have examined the college access, persistence, and completion rates of first-generation students. However, minimal research has addressed the heterogeneous student population through a gendered or intersectional lens. To provide nuance to first-generation scholarship and identity development, the dissertation employed a narrative inquiry approach to examine the meanings five first-generation women made as they understood their intersecting identities within unique institutional contexts. Findings from the study are the following: the women defined themselves as individuals with multiple identities and not solely on their first-generation status; the saliency with which individuals associated with a first-generation identity varied; an initial identity conflict regarding first-generation status catapulted the women’s understanding of other social dimensions and allowed them to transition from processing each identity in isolation to an intersectional conception of self; identity development was an evolving process with the saliency of social dimensions fluctuating based on temporal and situational contexts; and some women were not adequately challenged to reflect on their gender identity. The conclusions from the study will add to the knowledge base not only on first-generation students, but undergraduate women’s advantaged experiences, and identity intersectionality within higher education.
|Advisor:||Harper, Shaun R.|
|Commitee:||Perna, Laura W., Walpole, MaryBeth|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational sociology, Womens studies, Ethnic studies, Higher education|
|Keywords:||First-generation students, Higher education, Women|
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