Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2024

Thesis Director

Jon K. Coleman

Thesis Committee Member

Amber Webb

Thesis Committee Member

Danessa Carter


As reentry rates continue to climb in the United States, more individuals with felony convictions on their criminal records will be looking to obtain post-secondary education to make themselves more marketable in the workforce. The purpose of this narrative study was to examine the experiences of three individuals that pursued higher education after being released from prison. It was determined that the criminality of these individuals had minimal impact on their experiences in higher education, and that there are other components of their identity that have a heavier influence on their likelihood of success. The other components of their identities also gave stronger indication as to what type of support or resources would be most beneficial to them. The participants of this study discussed their experiences with feelings of challenge and support from students and faculty, as well their experiences with factors that historically have served as systemic barriers to this population of students. Through several perspectives, real world implications are discussed, along with recommendations for individuals that may interact with and support this population of students.