Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family Science and Human Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Pearl Stewart

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Sharon Boyd-Jackson

Committee Member

Sandra Lewis


Using qualitative methodology, 10 Black, first-generation female college students were studied at Predominately White Institution in Northern New Jersey. The study examined how Black, female, first-generation college students combined the diverging aspects of their home and school lives and the strategies they used to do so. The theoretical perspectives used in this study were Black Feminist and Life Course Theory. Combining these theoretical perspectives revealed how Black women used agency and linked lives to navigate college and renegotiate family and societal expectations. Analysis of 10 individual ethnographic interviews highlighted two major themes and several sub-themes. The major themes were: 1) reciprocity and 2) the art of navigation between home and school. This work has implications for future research on first-generation Black women and the use of reciprocity as a motivating factor for attending and completing college.

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