Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Member

Dr. Michelle Boettcher, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Julie Martin

Committee Member

Dr. Ysaaca Axelrod

Committee Member

Dr. Travers Scott

Committee Member

Dr. Tony Cawthon


This critical qualitative, autoethnographic research project explored how i came to understand the American dream through stories shared with me during semi-structured interviews, scholarly literature, and my own lived experience. i utilized critical reflexivity to examine the ways in which race, gender, and class appear in a person's understanding of their life and the American dream. Critical whiteness theory, critical race theory and critical race feminism, and structuralist constructivism guided my understanding of the American dream and how it influences the ways in which individuals and i understand our lives. Through what i learned, i discuss how the American dream affects education and the way we understand our lives in the United States. These lessons include ideas such as what are the American dream, meritocracy, social mobility, equity, privilege and oppression, and how to achieve success. Impacted areas include conceptions of equity, equality, race, privilege, gender, class, education, success, family, career, and personal values/beliefs.