Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Ceceilia Parnther

Second Advisor

Anthony Annuziato

Third Advisor

Joan Birringer-Haig


This qualitative narrative study explored the lived experience of high achieving Black men who recently graduated from very highly selective historically White institutions (HWI). The research was guided by Nancy Schlossberg’s (1989) theory of marginality and mattering and Shaun Harper’s anti-deficit achievement framework. Building on the work of Rosenberg and McCullough (1981), Schlossberg’s research shows that non-tradition students attending community college are more willing to persist to graduation when they feel they matter to the institution (Schlossberg, 1989). The dimensions of mattering are attention, importance, ego-extension, dependence, and appreciation. Harper’s anti-deficit framework counters the popular discourse in the literature around Black male students’ deficits, by focusing on three success pipelines, which are pre-college socialization and readiness, college achievement, and post-college persistence. The current study situated the theory of marginality and mattering within the anti-deficit college achievement pipeline. Publicly accessible information posted to social media was used to identify successful alumni of the highest rated public and private universities in the United States to determine how, if at all, the academic and social supports available at these institutions influenced these high achievers’ sense of mattering and willingness to persist. All participants self-identified as Black males who graduated from one of the target universities within the last three years and demonstrated ongoing achievement through academic awards, leadership roles in co-curricular activities, admission to graduate programs, and entrance into their career of choice after graduation. The current study utilized a modified three-dimensional narrative inquiry approach to analyze the digital story of the participants’ experience as undergraduates through the artifacts they shared about every day and major life events through text, static images, and video by way of their social media accounts that allow public access. This research provides insight into what is possible for Black male scholars when they are provided with access to relationships and structures they perceived as instrumental to their success in higher education.