Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

William H. Green

Third Advisor

Estella Greig

Abstract

Problem. Caribbean Canadians are often susceptible to negative stereotyping because of issues of social class and length of residence in Canada. This study describes how three Caribbean Canadian young women avoided stereotype vulnerability and journeyed to their definition of success. This narrative study focuses on themes which acted as catalysts for success in their lives. The data collection began with interviews conducted during their high school years and concluded with another set of interviews in the post-college years. The study records their stories as they strive to develop and achieve their idea of success in the non-school world.

Method. Through the in-depth collaborative interview, the researcher and the participants examined--chiefly through the channel of emerging metaphors--how these three women perceived, recalled, and explained critical incidents as they journeyed toward success. Participants share their accounts of the dynamic interrelationship of their religious experience, education and maternal influence as they seek to find the answers to the question, "What is behind your story of success?" Arts-based forms of representation--poetry, a playlet and graphic syntheses--are used to expand the method of interpreting the knowledge uncovered.

Results. As the women portrayed their journey, three themes emerged as salient contributors to their success--strong female support networks; the education experience, and God-reliance. The study also confirms four points of Bandura's social learning theory--self-regulation, self-evaluation, a history of past successes,experience with role models. Embedded in their stories are acts of will which shape their lives and allow them to define success as being self-actualized. Many of the growth descriptors of Maslow's model of the self-actualized person are storied by the women in this study. This study also unveiled a corner of the world that is not yet fully revealed to North American educators. As the path these women have trod is illuminated, we hear the women's voices urging other women to follow in their footsteps.

Conclusion. Undergirding the resilience stories that these women recount are motifs of self-efficacy and agency. Departing from the notion that success is achievement, these women argue that success is being self-sufficient and comfortable with themselves. The findings of this exploratory study highlight the value of agency, community at institutions of learning, maternal role modeling, and religious beliefs to women of Caribbean descent.

Subject Area

West Indians--Canada, Immigrants--Canada, Women immigrants--Canada, Success--Case studies

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