STRANGE FRUIT: EXPERIENCE AND SURVIVORSHIP OF BLACK WOMEN GRADUATE STUDENTS AT UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE COUNTY (UMBC)
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DepartmentSociology and Anthropology
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This qualitative research study explores the experiences of Black women graduate students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). As suggested by the existing literature, the study of Black women?s experiences from an intersectional perspective is still emergent, especially in education research. The goal of this study is to contribute to the literature by using the voices of Black women graduate students to explore their complex experiences at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) like UMBC from their point of view. Specifically, the aims of this study were threefold: (1) To understand campus climate from the perspective of Black women graduate students; (2) To assess the impact these perceptions and experiences, if any, on academic achievement, social connectedness, and professional development; and (3) To examine whether there is support for the theory that Black women need additional, unique interventions to be better prepared to thrive academically, socially, emotionally, and professionally in PWIs like UMBC. Using the Black Feminist theoretical framework as the foundation and a neo-positive approach, the qualitative responses of eighteen (18) survey participants and five (5) semi-structured, phenomenological interviews were analyzed. Findings indicate that Black women graduate students regularly experience discrimination and microaggressions on campus, seek deeper relationships with faculty, and consistently navigate hypervisibility and invisibility, and must take the initiative to cultivate communities of support. Consistent with existing literature, it emerged that Black women graduate students have a need for unique interventions, even if they are excelling academically.