Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Herlihy, Barbara; Watson, Zarus

Second Advisor

Dufrene, Roxane


This qualitative phenomenological research study explored the role balance experience of five Black female counselor education doctoral students who were balancing education, full-time employment, and significant relationships. Purposeful and snowball sampling were used to elicit participants who met these criteria: enrolled as a full-time doctoral student, employed full-time (30 or more hours weekly), and involved in a self-defined significant relationship.

The participants in this study individually provided insight into their respective perceived role balance experiences of balancing education, work, and significant relationships. The primary research question for the study was: “What is the role balance experience of Black female counselor education doctoral students maintaining full-time employment and significant relationships?” A review of the literature examining the roles of Black women in U.S. society, Black women and significant relationships, and Black women in higher education provided the foundation for the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in person and via Face time to collect data. Interviews were recorded and transcribed by a third party provider. The transcription and initial analysis was sent to each respective participant for member checking and a follow-up interview was scheduled to address any participant concerns or questions. The data were open coded and then clustered into themes. A cross-case analysis was completed and themes were merged into superordinate themes. Superordinate themes were used to answer the primary research question.

Three superordinate themes emerged: past influences present, struggle to have it all, and how to balance. Implications for counselor education programs and students are presented along with recommendations for future research. Personal reflections of the researcher were provided.


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