Date of Award

Summer July 2013

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Karen K. Huchting

Second Advisor

Michael Gottfried

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Reilly


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an experiential program on the occupational identity, access, and career maturity of Black and Latino students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Data shows these students to be underrepresented in STEM fields. Student interest and access are noted in the literature to be amongst the reasons minorities do not pursue a career in STEM related fields. Jobs within the STEM industry pay considerably more than non-STEM related jobs, access to these jobs can help individuals transform their socioeconomic status. Lack of access and exposure to these fields for low socioeconomic minorities then becomes a social justice issue. A mixed methods approach was applied which included surveys and interviews of junior students currently in an experiential careers program with a STEM emphasis. Composites and subscales were created and checked for internal reliability and consistency. Interview responses were recorded and coded based on theories of occupational identity and emergent themes. Findings suggest that most students within the experiential careers program exhibited high levels of occupational identity. The experiential learning model works well to support continuous learning and the identity development of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.