Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Dissertation (UNI Access Only)


“For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power I rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world. Only within a patriarchal structure is maternity the only social power open to women.”

The Master’s Tool will Never Dismantle the Master’s House - Audre Lorde (2003)

The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of a Black female student affairs staff/administrator who worked at a predominantly White institution (PWI) and her othermothering of Black and brown students. Much of the research on othermothering and relationship building with Black students at PWIs has been around their connection to Black faculty members. What has been unexamined are the lived experiences of administrators who take on the additional role of caregiver to Black students outside of the classroom. For nonacademic university employees, especially those working in student affairs, there is a different level of support needed for Black students at PWIs. The staff–student relationship is forged at the intersection of care and accountability, telling real truths and being the shoulder to cry on. Staff members become the surrogate for what some Black and Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students never had or lost, or they become a place filler for someone who is too far away to lean on. The role of othermothering takes on a life that faculty members may only be able to scratch the surface.

This study has taken many forms and iterations, at first focusing on the experiences of other Black female student affairs professionals. However, as time went on and unexpectedly, I became the subject of this autoethnographic study. This iii dissertation examined a Black woman’s role as custodian to BIPOC students in academia. Therefore, throughout this study, the experience and perspective of a Black female student affairs professional was examined using a qualitative research method of personal interview, vignettes, and reflective journaling. If colleges and universities can recognize and consider the findings and perspectives offered from this study, they should be able to grasp the value of hiring and supporting more Black female student affairs practitioners who are doing the work to support underrepresented and underserved BIPOC students.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

David Schmid, Chair, Dissertation Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 116 pages)

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