Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Stanley Steiner, Ph.D.

Major Advisor

Diane Boothe, D.P.A.


Petros Panaou, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to explore Congolese refugee students’ experiences in higher education in the United States. In order to understand the challenges Congolese students face in higher education, this study used narrative inquiry methodology to investigate Congolese students’ lived experiences that affected their educational endeavors before and after resettlement to the United States. The study examined personal stories of 10 Congolese students in the Pacific Northwest using semi-structured in-depth interviews, one-on-one follow-up interviews, field notes and two focus group interviews. Using narrative analysis five reoccurring themes were identified and discussed in the findings. The study findings indicate that Congolese students experienced many obstacles and inequitable treatment in higher education after resettlement to the United States. These challenges evolved from a combination of traumatic experiences caused by wars, the lack of opportunities and equitable resources in higher education, unpreparedness of faculty and staff to work with students across cultures, and lack of cultural sensitivity among educators and peers. The study provides recommendations for faculty, staff, and policymakers to provide opportunities and equitable education for all students in higher education in the United States.