Date of Award

Summer 8-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Gayle Mindes

Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph Gardner

Third Advisor

Dr. Aisha Ray


Understanding the factors that contribute to the educational success and failure of African-American males continues to be a topic of current research. Frequently, educational performance outcome data, report African-American males as low performers. Some African-American males are able to overcome family issues, community violence and school dysfunction, and achieve academic success. They are resilient. Masten, Best, and Garmezy (1990) define resiliency as “the process of, capacity to, or outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances” (426). In this study, the internal and external factors motivating the academic success of five African-American males who grew up in Chicago, Illinois’ most violent communities were examined. The dual purpose of this phenomenological study was, to first, understand the lived experiences of five resilient African-American males who were successful in their educational pursuits and second, to uncover the central meaning of resilience and those factors, both internal and external, that contributed to their success. The researcher was able to identify four key themes. These themes reveal the perceptions of the participants around resilience and the factors they attribute to their personal resilience and academic success.