Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

Factors Influencing the Resiliency and Thriving of Housing Insecure Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Donald W. Comer, Felix A. Okojie

The purpose of this study was to explore factors influencing the resiliency and academic thriving of students who experienced housing insecurity while attending historically Black colleges (HBCUs). Exploring this from a non-deficit perspective focused on habits that would allow students to adapt and thrive. The Academic Resilience Model guided a qualitative examination to answer three research questions: 1) How do individual systems influence the resiliency and academic thriving of students experiencing housing insecurity at HBCUs? 2) How do external systems influence the resiliency and academic thriving of students experiencing housing insecurity at HBCUs? 3) How do academic systems influence the resiliency and academic thriving of housing insecure students at HBCUs? Interviews with sixteen study participants characterized the adversity and stress related to their experiences with housing insecurity. This understanding was important to fully frame how participants engaged protection mechanisms to overcome housing insecurity as a barrier to resilience and thriving. Participant narratives on coping with adversity and stress were multidimensional. Participants transitioned and morphed between individual, external and academic systems to mediate stressors brought on by housing insecurity. Participants demonstrated that the individual factors were essential in navigating the problems related to housing insecurity. Study participants demonstrated mindfulness and were able to recognize when the individual system alone was insufficient to sustain resiliency. Responses to research question two encapsulated the expectations and value participants placed on caring relationships, encouragement, and meaningful interactions. Four categories of relationships; family, friends, social networks, and role models were essential to how participants engaged the external system to sustain resiliency and to thrive. Participants universally valued the academic system to support their physical and mental well-being when experiencing housing insecurity. Participants discussed meaningful interaction with faculty inside and outside of the classroom, having a trusting relationship with the president and optimal participation in extracurricular activities as central to a balanced contribution from the academic system in support of resiliency and academic thriving. Tierney et al. (2008) previously noted that the resiliency experiences are fluid and make defining the support needed challenging. This study increases the knowledge to provide interventions at small private HBCUs.

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