Date of Conferral







Alice Eichholz


AbstractCollege persistence to degree completion by African American males remains a problem in higher education with little known about the supportive experiences of alumni from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to understand the role fictive kin relationships played in the persistence and degree completion by African American male alumni from HBCUs. Brooks and Allen’s concept of fictive kin relationships and Tinto’s persistence theory in higher education were the framework to explore how African American male alumni from an HBCU characterized the role fictive kin relationships played in their college persistence to graduation. Data were collected through interviews with eight African American male alumni who considered others as family who were not related by blood or marriage. The data analysis included hand coding methods to understand the experiences in the context of the framework. Fictive kin relationships in college persistence for the sample were found to be supportive (as mentors, helpers, and motivators), involved in their lives when college students and later as professionals, became friends in many aspects of their lives, and took the place of family when and where needed. Positive social change in higher education institutions can result from noticing the importance of fictive kin in college persistence of African American males. Including outreach or programs for encouraging fictive kin relationships through college may improve African American males’ persistence to graduation.