Breana Lynn Smith



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The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study is to understand the experience of African American male identity and its relation to the academic success of African American male junior and senior students at the University of Dayton. Following the African American identity development models of Cross (1971) and Robinson and Howard-Hamilton (1994) as theoretical frameworks, I explore factors related to African American male students’ identities and how these subsequently influenced their academic achievement. The historical research about African American male students in higher education focuses on the deficits this population faces and ultimately feeds into the stereotypes that plague this group (Harper, 2009, as cited in Kim & Hargrove, 2013). Emerging research on the topic of African American male success within higher education has evolved within the last decade and has started to frame an achievement-based representation of Black male collegians. Data was collected utilizing individual, in-person interviews (n = 9) between the researcher and participants. Among my several findings, familial support, campus resources and support, and the desire to do better were top influences in these participants’ achievement of academic success. Common among my findings was extracurricular involvement; this trend appeared as a high influence for many of the participants. The influence of African American male identity on the ability and desire of these students to succeed academically emphasizes the need for support and resources for this population within higher education and prior.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Savio Dennis Franco

Primary Advisor's Department

Counselor Education


Stander Symposium project, student affairs, School of Education and Health Sciences

They Succeed: Exploring the Academic Success of Undergraduate Black Males at the University of Dayton