Date of Conferral
STEPHEN C. ANYAKA
African American high school students face considerable personal and circumstantial challenges such as poverty, living in high crime neighborhoods, a lack of positive role models, low socioeconomic status, and social inequity in their efforts to achieve academic success. Finding solutions for persistent academic underperformance and closing the achievement disparity gap for minority children are challenging. This generic qualitative study examined the motivations of high-achieving African American high school students to persevere and achieve academic success despite their personal and circumstantial challenges. Social cognitive theory framed the study. Semistructured interview data were collected from 10 high achieving African American high school juniors and seniors from 2 local schools. Data were thematically analyzed via open coding. The following themes were identified; (a) utility of school and the importance of education; (b) importance of organization; (c) importance of involvement in extracurricular and creative activities; (d) positive home support, parent involvement, and communication; (e) positive sibling/peer influence; (f) positive adult role models; (g) high expectations of self; (h) importance of perseverance, and; (i) seeing barriers and challenges as opportunities. The findings of this study promote social change by providing information to individuals, families, and school systems that may lead to the development of interventions that could enhance school engagement in African American students.