Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Barbara Bleyaert

Committee Member

Theresa Saunders

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson

Committee Member

Diane Parfitt


The purpose of this study was to explore the educational histories and experiences of former teen mothers who have completed a post-secondary degree and to understand their challenges and successes. This study effectively served this population by expanding the diverse experience of teen mothers and their ability to defy society’s label of “teenage parent.” The study design was qualitative with the two modes, phenomenology and life history, being employed. Personal interview was the primary data collection method. The conceptual frameworks guiding the study were resilience theory and self-efficacy theory. The life stories of all five women were shared to provide a detailed perspective of their lived experiences. Four common themes emerged across the five participants: 1. Four of the five participants confirmed that their family members and friends played an instrumental role in helping them attain their college degrees; 2. There was representative thematic continuity of resilience within all of the five women’s ability to overcome many adversities; 3. Determination served as a protective factor for all of the participants in attaining their post-secondary degrees and coping with adversities; 4. All five participants possessed a desire to help other individuals. Recommendations resulting from the findings of the study included expanding the current study to include teenage fathers and a greater diversity of race ethnicity, tracking the educational data for teen mothers by educational facilities, and exploring the relationships of teen mothers and family members who provide assistance. Implications for educational leaders were also suggested.