Representations of Higher Education for Female Refugees in the United States



Kruczek, Shelby

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This thesis describes the qualitative experiences of women with a refugee background as they pursued a college education in the Washington, D.C. Metro region. Conducted with five female refugee participants who were currently enrolled or aspiring to enroll in a community college or university, narrative interviews shed light on their experiences and attitudes related to higher education. A literature review contextualizes the challenges related to access and retention for refugee students as a marginalized college student population in the United States and abroad. Bronfenbrenner’s (1995) ecological systems model serves as a guiding conceptual framework for the research analysis, which describe themes of identity development, transitions, social responsibility, and the value of education. Despite significant hardships in their educational journeys, participants were largely hopeful about the role of college in their lives and were eager to use their education to make a positive difference in their communities. The findings benefit policy, practice, and scholarship on access and support for refugee students in higher education.



Refugee student, Refugee education, Higher education, Female refugee, College access, Underrepresented student population