Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type



Faculty of Arts and Sciences


Justice Studies Program


There are disparities in achievement for Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color (BIWOC) both during college as well as beyond completion due to insufficient preparation before matriculation. Researchers have attributed this struggle of aligning attainment and aspiration to financial constraints, culture shock, and overcoming an academic and social learning curve. However, many institutions have naively created programming and scholarship to aid these barriers, yet retention and graduation rates for BIWOC students are still lower than their white counterparts. These gaps that are characterized by race and ethnicity are persistent, leading institutions to wonder how effective their support systems are. This thesis study explores the voices of college- aged BIWOC. It aims to educate universities on dismantling their group stereotypes of BIWOC to adopt a more communal climate for students that treats BIWOC as individuals rather than homogeneously. The goal of this study is to support BIWOC students by educating universities on the importance of intentional programming that includes being transparent about disparities and why the programming exists altogether. This thesis uses reflexivity and qualitative interviews with a sample of 15 BIWOC who had attended one or more college classes, who are currently between the ages of 18 to 35, and who have lived in Rhode Island at some point in their life to better understand the experience of BIWOC. Among the sample size, an eclectic mix of colleges were represented including community colleges, public universities, Historically Black Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Predominately White Institutions, and other private institutions. Zoom interviews were held from December 2022-February 2023. They were recorded, transcribed, and coded inductively and then the researcher analyzed the codes, noting seven overarching themes: Educational Seesawing, Ignorance Fatigue, Heightened Awareness of Disparities, Drive/Focus/Disposition, Family Influence, Literacy, and Self- Limitation.