Date of Conferral





Human Services


Dr. Mary Bold


First-generation African American male student-athletes are faced with challenges when attending a four-year institution of higher education. Many of these individuals are leaving their family and hometown for the first time, which can cause them to feel lonely and as if they are an impostor. Using the imposter syndrome lens as the conceptual framework, this case study sought to understand the experiences of first-generation African American male student-athletes at a primarily Caucasian NCAA Division III campus. Three participants responded to recruitment flyer for the face to face interviews. Themes derived from the analysis of individual interviews with 3 participants and archival records. After analyzing all content, the themes were reviewed and defined. The themes were key factors for enrolling in a four-year college, tapping into athletics to attend and navigate the college campus, personal circumstances faced in college, navigating course load, sense of community, key challenges facing African American male student-athletes, navigational strategies of first-generation African American male student-athletes, and lessons learned from the overall college experience. Findings revealed that tutoring, on campus social activities, mentoring from teammates and coaches may encourage future generations to attend college to improve themselves as well as their communities. This study will promote social change by informing college administrators, coaches, high school faculty, and mentors of practical ways to equip first-generation African American student-athletes with the necessary resources to excel in college such as mentoring, tutoring, and service-learning.