Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kyo Yamashiro

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Dina Maramba

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William Perez

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Victor Thompson

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Samara I Suafoa


college-going decisions, grid iron capital, Grid Iron Myth, Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders, Polynesian Pipeline, student-athletes

Subject Categories



Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) high school student-athletes are highly sought after by collegiate athletic programs across the country, creating the Polynesian Pipeline phenomenon (Johnston, 1976; Tengan and Markham, 2009; Uperesa, 2014; Vainuku and Cohn, 2015). However, the college graduation rates of NHOPIs remain comparable to those of other minoritized communities. Utilizing an adapted conceptual framework of college access (Ogbu, 1990; Tierney and Venegas, 2009) which argues that college-going decisions are impacted by multiple environmental influencers, this study examines the role of the Polynesian Pipeline one of those contextual factors in the college choice process for NHOPI student-athletes. Furthermore, this study hypothesizes that the Polynesian Pipeline substantially influences the college-going decisions of this specific population of student-athletes due to the unique forms of capital it offers. Designed as a qualitative study, phenomenology is used to accentuate the NHOPI student-athlete voice, which has been critically underexplored. Using purposive sampling, participants were initially identified through NHOPI community athletic organizations as eleventh and twelfth grade NHOPI student-athletes. Thereafter, snowball sampling was used to identify additional participants. Lastly, themes were derived from demographic survey and one-on-one interview responses. Findings suggest that the Polynesian Pipeline is a significant contextual factor within the college choice process for NHOPI high school student-athletes which heavily impacts their attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions about going to college. Additionally, findings argue that for this unique population, the intersectionality of race and athletics should be considered during the college choice process.



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