Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College for Community Health



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Leslie Kooyman

Committee Member

Vanessa Alleyne

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Dana Heller Levitt


This qualitative study explores the lived experiences of at-risk college students who become honors students. There is much quantitative research on the factors that influence or predict the path of at-risk students becoming honors students. What is less well established in literature is what personal transformation occurs in the lives of students placed at-risk who go on to become honors students. While many pre-freshman programs have the strategies to provide individual opportunity and increase economic prosperity by producing college graduates, it is less obvious what individual students do in their journey moving from underprepared to becoming an honors student. In my study, I will be looking at honors students and listening to hear about their own personal journeys. With a theoretical framework utilizing two theories, Social Integration and Self-Efficacy, the research question being addressed in the study is: How do college students, initially considered at-risk of not succeeding, who are now honors students, describe their educational and personal journeys at the university? The data collected from one-on-one interviews and follow-up interviews of participants in the Opportunity program will be analyzed not only to understand the potential value of Opportunity programs but to understand the meaning and context of the lived experience for each at-risk student who transforms into an honors student.

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