Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Marva Cappello

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Emilie Reagan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Katie Sciurba

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

© 2023 Ashá S. Jones


Black girls, Black women, Critical autoethnography, Memos, Mentors, Music

Subject Categories



This critical autoethnographic study examined my experiences navigating educational institutions from young adulthood to adulthood, as seen through the eyes of a Black girl growing up to become a Black woman. Specifically, this study included an examination of 10 critical incidents with a combination of the past 7 years of my life that explain the negative and positive interactions that shaped my experiences with the educational system and society while explaining how music, self-reflective writing, and other “parent figures’’ (mentors) were all elements that contributed to my educational success. Drawing on Critical Race Theory, Critical Mentoring, Black Feminist Thought, and Critical Autoethnography, this study sheds light on how I, as a Black girl and woman, experienced racism, discrimination, and systems of power in K-12 and postsecondary educational systems and society. I utilized Black Feminist methodologies and qualitative inquiry to analyze self-reflective journals and a compilation of music lyrics, along with interviews with mentors/other parent figures. In my research, I analyzed 10 critical incidents in which I had to deal with issues including racism, pushout, labeling, silencing, and the need for assistance while navigating the educational complex and society at large. Across these incidents, five overarching themes surfaced: finding my voice, understanding my identity, resilience, self-actualization, and recognizing the power of community. This study aimed to emphasize the importance of more effective support networks within educational systems and society, particularly for Black girls and women.



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