Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

John Saltmarsh

Second Advisor

Peter Kiang

Third Advisor

Amani El-Jack


Using narrative inquiry, this qualitative study sought to examine the community college experiences of 12 South Sudanese refugees resettled in Massachusetts. Through interviews, I gathered participants' narratives around three focal areas: the impact of culturally responsive practices on their learning experiences, the challenges and obstacles they confront as they navigate the community college experience, and the value and importance they attach to education. Using the lenses of Validation Theory, Transformational Learning Theory, and Resilience Theory, six themes emerged from this study: 1)The South Sudanese students' perception of their success is impacted by faculty practices; 2) For the South Sudanese , education is a primary goal in their country of resettlement; 3) The South Sudanese view community colleges as an important starting point for entry into higher education in the U.S. ; 4) Financial difficulties have been the main deterrent for the South Sudanese students' ability to pursue and/or continue higher education without any significant interruption; 5) The South Sudanese persist in the face of adversity' and 6) For the South Sudanese, success includes accomplishments and achievements that extend beyond one's self; it is intimately connected to the ability to help others.

This study affirms the integral role of validation and cultural values in the development as well as reinforcement of resilience. It also highlights the impact of faculty members' culturally responsive teaching and learning practices on students' transformational learning. This study proposes that despite, and in the face of, cumulative adversity, these individuals demonstrated persistence, motivation, and resilience as they confronted the challenges of pursuing an education. Finally, implications and recommendations for leadership, policy, practice, and future research are discussed.


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