Date of Conferral





Human Services


Randy Heinrich


Various public polices contributed to the significant increase of parent incarceration in the United States among African Americans. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to gain an understanding of the perspective of African American male college graduates who experienced paternal incarceration during childhood and/or adolescence about the role of family and persevering to obtain a college degree by the age of 30. Utilizing a transcendental phenomenological approach to describe the essence of paternal incarceration as experienced by 12 participants, emergent themes were uncovered to build the characteristics of success relative to the role of family. The modified van Kaam method of analysis of phenomenological data enabled the development of themes from lived experiences of participants. Among African American male college graduates, the lived experiences of paternal incarceration during childhood and/or adolescence relative to the role of family in college success included negative individual and familial impacts with positive ameliorating factors relative to the role of family that motivated them to succeed academically and obtain a college degree, despite the familial deficient of paternal incarceration. The results of this study can help human service professionals’ supportive efforts among African American males with the experience of paternal incarceration by providing understanding lived experiences of graduates in higher education settings with potential use across similar settings.