Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Higher Education Leadership

First Advisor

Jaclyn Rivard, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jamal Scott, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Brian Hamluk, Ed.D.


As the number of Black college students who have enrolled in federally designated Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) has risen, it has become necessary to examine how their sense of belonging has been fostered, particularly given the educational disparities and equity gaps in retention, persistence, and graduation rates. Furthermore, the focus on initiatives geared towards Latinx students may contribute to feelings of inadequacy among Black students, which is compounded by racialized experiences that have occurred in educational settings both prior to and during college. This phenomenological study explored the experiences of nine Black undergraduate students at a private four-year HSI in the Midwest with the aim of understanding how they define sense of belonging and the factors that influence it. The study also examined the institution's role in mitigating or perpetuating barriers to its development. Findings suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to fostering a sense of belonging is insufficient among Black students, particularly when the HSI lacks Black representation. Instead, Black students desire safety found within the Black campus community, validation and encouragement from faculty and staff, and a belief that they are seen, heard, and valued by institutional leadership.