Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Brianna Parsons, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Simyka Carlton, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Ph.D.


This qualitative intrinsic case study focused on the academic achievement and success of African American alumni students in an urban school district in New York City. The researcher sought to answer the following research questions: (a) How do urban, African American high school alumni perceive and describe the quality of education they received as impacting their studies and their success?; (b) How do alumni describe the social and cultural factors that contributed to and influenced the quality of education they received?; and (c) How do social and cultural factors influence their trajectory towards high academic achievement and/or success? Data were gathered utilizing three sources: semistructured interviews with eight alumni students from 2007 to 2016, high school transcripts, and personal artifacts that were impacted by the students’ experience at Woodbine Academy High School (WAHS), a pseudonym approved to maintain the confidentiality of the alumni and the institution used in the study. Information was gathered to determine the social and cultural factors that contributed to the high success rates of African Americans as lived and experienced by the alumni. Data analysis captured and documented the alumni participants’ voices, which presented the counter-narrative to the deficit model. This descriptive case study of eight alumni participants revealed four themes that resonated throughout the data analysis. Alumni participants perceived the social and cultural factors that impacted their success were passion as reflected by the teachers’ content knowledge and interaction, belonging, access and opportunity, and expectations.