Exploring Men of Color (MOC) Experiences in Higher Education; A Study Towards Improving Predominantly White Institutions environments for MOC

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type




First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez


Men of Color(MOC) tend to have entirely different experiences than their peers when navigating higher education, especially in Predominantly White Institutions. The available data show that MOC students that attend a Historically Black College/University(HBCU) or Hispanic-Serving Institution(HSI) still have to navigate through challenges in their environment. The difference is in the available support for students. Within HSIs & HBCUs, resources range from personal mentorship to Men’s Success Initiative programs, and more (Goings 2016). With this knowledge, it has become important to use HBCUs and HSIs as models for PWIs to improve on their support strategies; community building, leadership development, and nurturing success. Previous research suggests that Men of Color experience isolation when entering higher education and the continuous lack of support often forces them to transfer or drop out. Previous research also shows that students have benefitted from participating in programs for Men of Color within their respective institutions as this allowed students to express their full selves while developing a strong community. The current research presents educators with the opportunity to develop better strategies to ensure that MOC students are supported throughout their educational journeys. My research attempts to gain a better understanding about the resources Men of Color have utilized for their undergraduate success and the strategies implemented that nurtured this development. How does the lack of MOC initiatives push students into transferring or dropping out of these institutions? How do these students define success in college and why is it important? More importantly, how did some students navigate higher education successfully while others struggled? In order to explore these questions, Men of Color students attending an MSI private liberal arts college in Southern California were interviewed to provide insight on their personal experiences. This focus on an MSI allowed me to ask students questions on how the college supported their transition into higher education and the ways in which communities are shaped around them. Current research provides concrete examples of Men of Color that have successfully navigated higher education so I wish to explore the programs and outreach strategies that universities have in place that support these students. The knowledge acquired will aid in developing new programs and resources that provide continuous guidance and support for MOC. Students benefit from having a mentor, community, and motivation to succeed. Findings suggest that students benefit from taking on leadership roles and getting involved with different clubs and organizations on campus. Participants of the interviews shared the various ways in which they felt supported throughout their years in higher ed and it offers insight on how PWIs can establish these nurturing spaces for MOC. Although the data collected is limited to MSI, there are many strategies that educators from PWIs could learn from and apply into their own campus to promote success for all students.

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