Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration

First Advisor

Mohamed Nur-Awaleh


The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of implicit education debt on African American mothers lived reality, as these women pursue PhDs. Using Collins’ (2000) Black Feminist Thought and the Racial Opportunity Cost (ROC) as theoretical frameworks, the study presents the voices of African American mothers in doctoral programs who occupy a liminal space in the academy. Chambers and Huggins (2014) defined ROC as “the options that are foregone and the losses that result from those foregone options when students of color pursue academic success” (p. 189). Upon the researcher’s analysis of the data, the following seven major themes emerged: self-sacrifice, PhD is #1 priority, bootstrapping, implicit education debt awareness, cumulative stress, social isolation, and estrangement. The analysis of these themes depicts the roles these women play, the support or lack thereof in higher education for African American mothers, and the tradeoffs made by individuals, families, and communities through this journey. This study offers useful recommendations that, if adopted, could enhance PhD experiences for African American mothers looking to pursue a PhD in higher education institutions. This research also offers both practical and policy implications for higher education faculty, administrators, students, and education policy makers.


Imported from Bumpers_ilstu_0092E_12106.pdf


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