Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Tiffeny R. Jimenez

Second Advisor

Bradley D. Olson

Third Advisor

Judah Viola


Adolescent mothers are not a homogenous group. Like non-parenting adolescents they come from various educational and socio-economic backgrounds. Adolescent mothers are generally labelled to be at high risk of dropping out of school, making poor life choices, and ultimately living poor life outcomes. However, there is no substantial empirical data that supports this premise. Nor is there currently any national data which consistently tracks the triumphs, challenges, and general life experiences of adolescent mothers. Utilizing a sample of fifteen African American adolescent mothers, this qualitative study seeks to explore the life experiences of adolescent mothers leading up to their current pursuit of post-secondary education. Results from the study revealed that this sample of adolescent mothers represent a unique lower-risk segment of the adolescent mother population, who have already defied the general stereotypes; and have persevered to make better life choices. Since these adolescent mothers already possess the foundation to do well, it will likely prove advantageous to policymakers, and practitioners to advocate and provide additional supports through educational and employment programming; in efforts to support them on their chosen path to becoming adult contributing members of society.