Publication Date

5-2017

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

4-24-2017

Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Claudia Peralta, Ph.D.

Major Advisor

Stanley Steiner, Ph.D.

Advisor

Petros Panaou, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examines the impact college education has on Bosnian refugee women who resettled to the United States. The research findings help us better understand the effect higher education has on female students who came to the United States as refugees, their self-sufficiency and their overall integration into their new society. Using Kunz’s refugee theory and Bourdieu’s theory on social and cultural capital as a theoretical framework, the study explores socio-cultural factors that enable and constrain the ability of Bosnian women to navigate the facets of higher education, and how those factors affect their self-sufficiency and overall integration. The participants came to the United States from Bosnia and Herzegovina as refugees during the mid-1990s and early 2000, and are first generation Bosnian or Bosnian-Americans living throughout the United States. The Bosnian women range in age from 26 to 40, and achieved levels of education ranging from a current undergraduate to doctorates. Narrative inquiry methodology was used to represent the ten participants through their personal stories. Data collection methods included recorded individual in-depth interviews along with field notes, and a focus group follow-up. The study results illustrate how Bosnian women’s multiple uprooted experiences as refugees affected their educational experiences and their disposition toward a college education. A rich account of the women’s complex experiences in their native country, temporary exile, and the United States, provides educators, educational policy makers, professional staff, and the host community a framework for how to efficiently support Bosnian refugee students as they integrate into their new community and bridge into higher education. Recommendations for other refugee communities and the U.S. refugee policy makers to support effective integration of refugees are also provided.