Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology

Committee Chair

Winfred Avogo


The number of graduate and undergraduate students from Africa in the United States (US) is rapidly increasing as Sub-Saharan Africans are among the fastest-growing foreign-born population in the US. Migration represents a significant turning point in individuals’ lives. Despite the growing body of research on international students in the US, there remains a gap in understanding the educational experiences of African students from a life course perspective. This study seeks to address this gap by examining student migration through the lens of the life course framework, leveraging current trends and patterns in international migration. Drawing on qualitative techniques, specifically narrative life histories, this research delves into the detailed experiences of nine African female international graduate students at Illinois State University employing a snowball sampling technique. These students hail providing Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya and are 18-35 years old providing rich experiences in their educational journeys. The study revealed that agency, family dynamics, and household decision-making significantly shape the migratory trajectories of the participants. Challenges such as isolation, financial constraints, and visa issues are prevalent among this population. It found isolation, financial challenges, and visa issues as the challenges this population encounters. Moreover, the study highlights the concept of transnationalism, emphasizing how these students navigate between borders, embodying not just migration but transmigration. Another key finding of this research is the formation of communities as a crucial coping mechanism for students. The communities provide resources and support as they navigate their academic pursuits in the US. Furthermore, the study identifies a delay in traditional life transitions, such as marriage and childbearing, among the participants. Many are unmarried and prioritize their academic endeavors, with aspirations to pursue doctoral studies to enhance their career prospects.


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