Date of Conferral





Social Work


Mohammad Tirmazi


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, and dysfunction in a child’s home are considered a public health crisis due to their correlation to health disparities and psychosocial problems in adulthood such as substance use, relationships, education, and maintaining employment. However, some individuals are resilient and demonstrate the ability to adapt and function well despite experiencing adverse events. To better understand resilience when ACEs are present, I conducted a basic qualitative research study to explore the lived experiences of individuals in Tennessee with elevated ACE and resilience scores. A purposeful sample of 12 participants who scored high on ratings of ACE and resilience participated in in-depth interviews, ranging from 24-140 minutes, about their experiences with resilience. Framed by Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory and resilience theory, thematic analysis was employed. Seven themes emerged from the data: (a) giving back, (b) faith and spirituality, (c) influence of strangers, (d) buffer within household, (e) system resources as barriers, (f) limited resource access for participants of color, and (g) generational factors. These themes suggest that protective factors at various system-levels foster resilience and demonstrate the need for trauma-informed services across systems including education, mental health, faith-based, law enforcement, and social services. Findings may be used to inform effective intervention strategies when developing practices and programs that address ACEs and build resilience.