Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Pamela Havice

Committee Member

Michelle Boettcher

Committee Member

D. Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Catherine Mobley

Abstract

This phenomenological case study explored lived experiences of women student veterans in a college setting. Through in-depth interviews, women student veterans described their transition from their military experience to enrollment. Further, participants discussed their experiences and perceptions of campus veteran support (e.g. student veteran center and campus support staff). The case, bounded in this research design, was a large, public, research-intensive institution in the Southeastern United States. Six participants were recruited to participate in face-to-face interviews.

Eight coded themes were identified in support of the research questions. The primary research question was, what are women student veterans’ experiences in a college setting. In support of this main research question, the secondary questions were: (a) How do women student veterans’ military experiences influence their transition to the college setting? And (b) What are women student veterans’ perceptions of campus veteran support (e.g. student veteran center and campus support staff)?

The first themes were related to the influence of participants’ military experience on their college transition. The first themes were: (a) reason to join the military; (b) unique qualities of women; (c) military socialization; and (d) military culture. The second themes identified women’s experiences and perceptions within the campus veteran support services. The findings were organized by components of the model for student veteran support (Vacchi, 2011, 2013). The findings were presented through: (a) services (including student veteran center and educational benefit processing; (b) support (including support staff); (c) transition; and (d) academic interactions.

The findings of this study offered insights to experiences women student veterans had in one college setting. Because of the bounded context of case design, participants’ experiences at the research site were unique to the support structures specifically available. This study continued to fill a gap in the literature on women student veterans as well as provided practical implications to support women student veterans in higher education.

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