Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Schurman

Second Advisor

Darcel Brady

Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery


First-generation, Black, male students continue to lag behind their continuing-generation peers in degree attainment, leaving them deficient in obtaining the social and financial upward mobility higher education is expected to afford. Research finds that, despite Black males entering college with higher degree aspirations than their White peers, they were 6 times less likely to achieve them, and only 5% of Black males would eventually graduate with a degree or certificate within three years of enrollment, compared with 32% of White males (Center for Community College Student Engagement, 2014). To close this persistent gap, this research sought to understand the activities, experiences, and relationships engaged in by members of this population who were successful in completing college and transitioning into what they defined as successful careers. This case study was conducted with 10 Midwest college graduates through semi-structured interviews to capture their unique voices and experiences across their college-to-career transition. Themes emerged around leveraging social and cultural capital among faculty, staff, and career professionals of similar race, background. The continuity of experiences between these groups appeared to account for as much as 80% of participants’ access to career services. These findings indicate the need for higher education institutions to employ strategic steps to align support personnel with first generation students’ (FGS) cultural norms and experiences to establish a sense of belonging and develop a nucleus of trust.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License