Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Catherine Glascock

Committee Members

Hal Knight, Jasmine Renner, Janna Scarborough


This study was designed to investigate the experiences of first-generation women from South-Central Appalachia who completed a doctorate degree in educational leadership (EdD). Research indicates that nearly one third of doctoral recipients reported being first-generation, and the majority of these students concentrated in certain academic areas such as education. Furthermore, the literature suggests that there is a strong correlation between educational achievement levels and family background as well as cultural and geographic factors. While the amount of literature on minority groups has increased over the past 20 years, literature on the people and culture of Appalachia is limited. When first-generation status is paired with the challenges faced by females from Appalachia, such students could face particular issues that may impede their success.

A qualitative, grounded theory approach was used for data collection and analysis. Ten face-to-face intensive interviews with women who met the criteria for this study were conducted. The purpose of these interviews was to enter into these women’s perspective, find out what was in and on their minds, and hear their stories.

From the raw data 15 themes emerged which were 1) Support, 2) Parental Support), 3) Precollege Support, 4) Support from Precollege Orientation Experiences, 5) Support from Mentors, 6) Support from Cohorts, 7) Socioeconomic Status, 8) Intrinsic Motivation, 9) Transformation, 10) Self-Efficacy, 11) Persistence, 12) On Being Appalachian, 13) Kinship, 14) Dialect, and 15) Bicultural Identity.

This research was significant because it was the first that looked specifically at the lived experiences of first-generation women from South-Central Appalachia who competed a doctorate of education EdD focusing on educational leadership and will contribute to the small body of research regarding first-generation, doctoral students.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.