Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dina C. Maramba

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

DeLacy Ganley

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Linda M. Perkins

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© Copyright Shirlie Mae Mamaril Choe, 2021 All Rights Reserved


Educators and researchers have consistently championed the value of arts education in helping to foster greater creativity and innovative thought in students. Despite the apparent social value of arts and creativity, there is a growing negative public perception of the utility of arts education and degrees in the competitive job market. In addition to decreases in arts education funding at the elementary and secondary school levels, the proportion of students pursuing arts-related majors have decreased over the years. This is unsurprising since media outlets like the U.S. News & World Report regularly highlight the top majors for students to pursue as the ones that would bring the “greatest job prospects” or “highest salaries.” These majors are almost always in the fields of business and healthcare, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)— and not in arts—leading to an overall devaluation of postsecondary arts education and degrees. Moreover, according to the National Center for Education Statistics 2018 report, data disaggregated by race revealed that a vast majority of students who majored in arts-related fields identified as White (62%) compared to students of color (32%). Reports of institutionalized racism and classism embedded in the admissions process to art programs may contribute to the marginalization of students of color and those from working-class backgrounds. This study addresses the disparities in K-20 arts education and careers by examining the educational and professional narratives of students of color majoring in arts. The study aims to highlight the ways in which students of color successfully navigate the arts by establishing a strong self-identity that helps them recognize valuable opportunities for educational and career advancement. More importantly, the study also addresses the role those oppressive systems, such as racism, play within the educational and professional pathways of aspiring artists of color.

Available for download on Tuesday, February 28, 2023