Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

James Coviello

Second Advisor

Ceceilia Parnther

Third Advisor

Stephen Kotok


The purpose of this phenomenological inquiry is to understand the experiences of formerly incarcerated Black male students who attend a Northeast urban community college and the unique barriers they encounter while navigating the institution. The United States imprisons more people than any country in the world, and Black men are disproportionately overrepresented in the United States criminal legal system. At the same time, Black men, are severely underrepresented in higher education and lag behind their White and female counterparts in nearly all indicators of collegiate success, including enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. Formerly incarcerated individuals face unique and substantial barriers to societal reentry, college access, and college success. Community colleges are the most accessible institutions for formerly incarcerated students and the most utilized vehicle for post-secondary attainment by Black students. However, a dearth of research exists on formerly incarcerated Black male students who attend community colleges. The present study utilizes criterion sampling to conduct semi-structured interviews with twelve formerly incarcerated Black males who attend High Point Community College. Employing a rigorous phenomenological approach, this study aims to produce findings to help higher education institutions, particularly community colleges, to craft more equitable policies, programming, and practices and improve the enrollment, retention, and success rates of students who have been impacted by the criminal legal system.