Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Robin Phelps-Ward

Committee Member

Natasha Croom

Committee Member

Tony Cawthon

Committee Member

Cynthia Deaton

Committee Member

Kendra Stewart-Tillman


The experiences of Black womyn collegians (BWC) at predominately White campuses (PWC) is one of isolation, lack of support, and combating oppressive incidents regularly (Commodore, Baker, & Arroyo, 2018; Porter, 2013). Along with the challenges of being a BWC on campus and in society, there is lack of formal safe spaces for BWC to unpack and manage the weight of microaggressions and the chilly campus climate many of them endure at PWI (Croom, Beatty, Acker, & Butler, 2017; Porter & Dean, 2015; Winkle-Wagner, 2010). For BWC to develop, succeed, and persist at PWI, they need intentional support (Rosales & Person, 2003).

This case study examined how institutions create climates that nurture sister circles for BWC to develop, succeed, and persist at PWI. The purpose of this study was to examine one institution’s sister circle program and its impact on the experiences of the BWC at the institution. The sister circle program at Hope State University was the selected research site for the case study. The data sources were interviews, sister circle general meeting observation, artifacts, and a questionnaire. The participants were 10 BWC (general and executive board members) involved in the sister circle program and four administrators directly connected to the program. Thematic analysis was utilized to make meaning of the experiences of the 10 BWC and four administrators within the sister circle program. The emergent themes were Spaces for Sisterhood, Sense of Belonging, Campus Agents, and Intentional Institutional Inclusion. The implications for practice and future research were discussed for BWC and sister circles, including the institutional responsibility PWIs have to the experiences of BWCs.



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