Date of Conferral







Peter Lownds


African American women represent 19% of the 2.1 million living female veterans. They are the largest minority group among veteran women; however, little is known about the challenges that they face when they transition to a postsecondary learning environment. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand better how this cohort of veterans who served in the U.S. Army during military campaigns in the Middle East overcame transitional challenges to higher education. This study utilized Schlossberg's adult transition theory and identity formation as described in Josselson's theory of identity development in women. The focus of this study was on how female veterans constructed meaning as they overcame transitional challenges and coped with change. The research questions focused on understanding the perceived social, emotional, and financial needs and discerning to what extent faculty and staff helped or hindered their academic success. Purposeful sampling strategies were used to select 12 veteran African American females who attend higher education to participate in semistructured interviews. Thematic analysis of the data indicated that being a better role model and provider; facing financial difficulties; and balancing home, school, and career were among the key findings. These findings on challenges of African American female veterans' experiences can be used to inform university administrators, state employment agencies, the Army's Soldier for Life Transition Program, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This study contributes to positive social change by providing understanding to institutions of higher education regarding the transitional experiences of African American female veterans and the need to implement programs to assist them better.