Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Katy Swalwell


This study explored cultural experiences amongst African Americans. The primary construct of interest is African centered teaching, learning, and identity, which is comprised of two parts: (a) cultural values with origins in African cultures that have been intentionally exercised within a community-based organization, and (b) a social and political ideology that intentionally incorporates elements of an African worldview in the lives of alumni who participated in a community-based Rites of Passage (ROP) program within a community-based organization. This study uses a qualitative case study research methodology to investigate former students' lived cultural experiences and how these experiences influenced their identity, and how it developed over time in their everyday lives. I used semi-structured interviews to gather data. The results revealed many themes in the participants’ lived experience, focusing on their cultural identity that may be interrelated and connected with the prominent descriptions of the African-centered worldview developed within the curriculum, practice, and day-to-day interactions. Moreover, through alumni's voices, I investigated how their lives are connected to the program's mission, vision, and overall intended outcomes. Rooted in an Afrocentric worldview, this study highlights the history, educational process, and social context that influences how the participants make meaning of their identity through their lived experiences as a youth of African descent. This investigation highlights the meaning and purpose of the community-based programs through students' voices to improve current understandings of African American students' experience within an African-centered school context.


Copyright Owner

Alade S McKen



File Format


File Size

197 pages