Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Richard Brown

Second Advisor

Olivia Stewart

Third Advisor

Evan Ortlieb


This study was conducted through an analysis of interview data from interviews with 5 women who first became mothers during adolescence and now define themselves and their children as “successful.” Maximum Variation Purposive Sampling was used to recruit women from different geographic areas (The Northeast, Northwest, Central, Pacific, and Southern regions), varied upbringings, and who represented the broadest range of cultural identities possible within the small sample size. Each of the interviewees were over the age of 18 and had at least one child who was kindergarten-age or older. The purpose of this research was to determine if thematic factors of success and failure, identified through analysis of interview data and the literature, could be used to inspire programming that meets the needs of young mothers (both academically and emotionally) while satisfying the “college readiness” demands of curriculum oversite boards.

A sociocultural framework, which acknowledges the impact of racial and cultural status on knowledge acquisition and student engagement, served as the foundation for inquiry and analysis. Likewise, a cosmopolitan perspective on literacy, which urges literacy researchers and practitioners to move away from the traditional, skill-acquisition view of literacy, toward a more critical view that encourages students to investigate relevant problems at both the local and global levels was used as the framework for analysis and proposed solutions.

Data from the interviews was analyzed using Polkinghorne's Analysis of Narratives in an attempt to understand how these women’s specific life events impacted their attaining of goals and fulfilling of perceived life purposes. Data was simultaneously coded using both Values and Descriptive coding and took place in an evolutionary manner as new data is introduced.

While current data suggests a positive trend in both teenage pregnancy and high school dropout rates, these trends have also led to a decrease in funding and attention to meeting the discrete needs of this subset of the student population. It is the goal of this research to present data in a way that will help address the needs of young mothers within the constraints of existing district policies and budgets.