Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science





First Advisor

Katherine R. Bruna


First generation female students of color face challenges in accessing and navigating the college-going realm. Scholars write about this population, but their tone is often deficit-based, focusing on these students’, families’, and communities’ shortcomings rather than highlighting their resilience and adept abilities at transitioning between different cultural worlds. Using Holland’s (1998) theory of cultural worlds, and employing portraiture methodology, tools of feminist research, and narrative ethnography, this intimate micro-study examines the college-going world that young women of minoritized identities navigates. It asks: (a) What are the identities, relationships, and resources that construe their participation in this world? (b) What are other worlds in which they participate? (c) What are the effective border-crossing strategies they use to transition from other worlds into the college-going world? It concludes by finding that young women transition between complex cultural worlds – including those centered on: resilience in the face of oppression; young adulthood; and complex familial relationships – to “border cross” into college. These findings are important in highlighting an asset-based approach of working with and understanding this population. Suggestions are included for institutions – especially PWIs – as to how to best support these students in their transition from high school to college. Particular emphasis should be placed on reducing on-campus racism and increasing supports of mentors, particularly those who may also be first-generation students of color.

Copyright Owner

Katherine Cameron Seifert



File Format


File Size

64 pages