Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Amira Proweller

Second Advisor

Karen Monkman

Third Advisor

Darrick Tovar-Murray


Diversity is an articulated value for higher education throughout the country. This research builds on existing research about how White students experience diversity and how they make meaning of their Whiteness and White privilege. This qualitative study utilized a phenomenological approach to understand White student leaders’ experience on a campus with a mission that emphasizes diversity. Eight White senior student leaders in the Division of Student Affairs were interviewed. These students experienced the campus ethos and messaging around the institutional values and mission. They also experienced leadership and diversity training in preparation for their roles. The participants discussed how they understood the mission, the values of the university, their experiences with diversity, and what it was like for them to come to understand their Whiteness and White privilege. The findings that emerged include the impact of a consequential interaction or relationship with a person of color on White student’s ambivalence toward issues of race. The mission and values of inclusion and diversity had a positive impact on the students by providing important context within which they grew. Finally, the participants report that the structures and support provided by the staff who engaged with the participants was a significant positive influence on their growth. These findings show the need for the university to create opportunities to leverage opportunities for White students to explore their identity development so they can engage in critical processing to become non-racist citizens.

Included in

Education Commons