Date of Award

Summer July 2015

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Antonia Darder

Second Advisor

Rebecca Herr Stephenson

Third Advisor

Elizabeth A. Stoddard


Many studies have been conducted on the achievement gap between Caucasian and minority students (Bankston & Caldas, 1998; A. Brown & Donnor, 2011; Howard, 2008; O’Conner, Lewis, & Mueller, 2007; Osborne, 1999), as this gap has been a persistent problem for decades. However, despite more students of color gaining access to institutions of higher education, there is still a severe gap in college graduation rates (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2011), with African American males being the least likely group to be found on college campuses (Dunn, 2012), and thus, possessing the lowest college graduation rate. St. Peter Claver Academy (pseudonym) is a Catholic, male high school located in an inner city, low-income community in the western United States. The demographic composition of the school is 65% Latino and 35% African American. Despite the fact that 100% of seniors are accepted into a college or university, the graduates of St. Peter Claver Academy have very poor college graduation rates. This qualitative study investigated the narratives of seven African- American graduates of the school in order to understand their college experiences, looking closely at attrition, retention, resilience, and persistence. Through the lens of critical bicultural theory, the voices of these former students are central to this study in an effort to seek common threads about their experiences, which can provide educators useful insight on how to improve the college graduation rate for this underrepresented student population group.