Five Black women who started and completed their doctorate of humanities at Clark Atlanta University while in midlife: An Afrocentric paradigm of success, 2020

Atlanta University and Clark Atlanta University Theses and Dissertations
Five Black women who started and completed their doctorate of humanities at Clark Atlanta University while in midlife: An Afrocentric paradigm of success, 2020
Watts, Gayle K.
Contributor to Resource:
Sears, Stephanie
Date of Original:
Degrees, Academic
Dissertations, Academic
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
Literature that defines midlife is quite fluid in definition. The start of midlife used in this study was age forty-five. Most women in midlife in the 21st century as an aggregate, are living longer, healthier, multifaceted lives. It is significantly rare to find dialog or defined research space for midlife Black women in higher education. Relatively few studies investigate Black women’s personal relationships that encourage and support successful outcomes. This study addresses the gap in the research that frames the impact of an Afrocentric point of view called Communal Cognitive Clusters as it relates to participants in the success of Black women’s obtainment of the doctorate while in midlife. Five Black women who obtained their doctorate while in midlife were the study participants. An in-depth analysis of their Afrocentric support systems called communal cognitive clusters was done by interview and demonstrated through a tactile exercise using two adapted convoy models. One model indicated who the supports were ten years prior to the degree. The other model indicated who the supports were at the time of completion of the degree. This gave a deeper sense of the roles, type of support, movement between the two models as well as providing an introspective thoughtful conversation. The results indicated that family members were the greatest support to these study participants along with close friends and in one case a family dog. Institutional support came from staff and classmates. Being a non-traditional student led to leadership and mentoring roles in their individual classes. Maat and generativity were key components to their success. Time to graduation was within the maximum 10 years to completion with the exception of two study participants who had serious health challenges that forced 12-year completion rates. This study is replicable, and I encourage looking at Black men in midlife in higher education as well as other ethnic groups. A longitudinal study would be appropriate to follow these students from entry in the doctoral program to completion. This study should also serve to educate, influence, and motivate those who are contemplating a return to higher education in midlife.
Date of award: 2020-05
Degree type: dissertation
Degree name: Doctor of Arts (DA)
Granting institution: Clark Atlanta University
Department: Department of Humanities
Advisor: Sears, Stephanie
Metadata URL:
Holding Institution:
Clark Atlanta University
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