Date of Conferral







Jessica Hart


The number of homeless students in U.S public schools continues to rise. Although many homeless students drop out due to challenges they face, lacking is research on how some homeless students overcome challenges and graduate high school, referred to as academically resilient. The purpose of this qualitative narrative study was to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences that promoted former students who were homeless during their senior year of high school to graduate despite adversity, using Resiliency Theory as the theoretical framework. Semi-structured interviews with five participants provided insight into the broader sociopolitical and personal contexts in their stories, revealing the importance of speaking up about their homeless identity and asking for help. This common action led participants to have support systems such as friends, teachers, and homeless shelter, promoting their academic resilience to graduate high school. Surprising, there was a lack of proper McKinney Vento Act (MVA) implementation in schools after participants reported their homeless identity. Further research on schools’ response with identified homeless students is suggested. The implications for positive social change include insights on effective interventions to foster resilience and how places and other people (e.g., homeless shelters providing comfort) can ensure homeless students graduate. The lack of MVA implementation finding may contribute to positive social change on a policy level, since U.S Department of Education mandates schools to implement MVA and work on a goal to increase high school graduation rates for homeless students. The findings in this study give hope, with proper implications, more homeless students graduate high school for a better future.