Finding Our Voices: The Bittersweet Journey of a Dream for First-Generation Female Doctoral Graduates

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Reba Houser Yarborough (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Melanie Greene

Abstract: While much research exists on the topic of first-generation college students; there is limited research concerning the persistence of first-generation female doctoral graduates. This personal narrative builds on the frameworks of feminism and constructivism and implements qualitative inductive thematic analysis. The study’s methodology included personal interviews, a focus group and document review. The document review included: 1) subjectivity journal notes, 2) interview transcripts and 3) focus group transcripts. The research questions were: 1) What was the importance given to life events and/or individuals in the participant’s decision to pursue doctoral studies? 2) How did the participant negotiate entry and persistence as a first-generation undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and more specifically, as a doctoral studies graduate? 3) What have these women learned as a result of their experiences as first-generation women in higher education? Data from the individual interviews, focus group interview and document review were analyzed using the principles of qualitative inductive thematic analysis. Four significant themes emerged: 1) finances, 2) relationships, 3) autonomous motivation, and 4) disconnects between the culture of their upbringing and the culture of the university. The four themes were used as the framework for analysis. Implications of the study and suggestions for further research are presented.

Additional Information

Yarborough, R.H. (2012). Finding Our Voices: The Bittersweet Journey of a Dream for First-Generation Female Doctoral Graduates. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2012
First-Generation Female Doctoral Graduates, Lived Experiences, Persistence, Feminism, Constructivism

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