Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Bernadette Musetti

Second Advisor

Dr. Jo Williamson

Third Advisor

Dr. Regena Whitlock


This study examines the educational trajectories, critical life events, variations and commonalities of four Dominican educators in the U.S. South who, despite being non- English speakers and immigrants, were successful in attending college and obtaining degrees in education beyond a Master’s degree. This study explores their life journeys in order to understand and account for various factors which allowed and propelled them to be successful in school and rise to leadership positions in education. The themes which emerge are directly related to the various types of capital and social assets that are embodied within the Community Cultural Wealth framework, e.g. aspirational, linguistic, familial, social, navigational, and resistant. Patterns found among the participants’ paths include: success stories, academic resilience, exposure, mentors, and the historical context of their immigration. The findings suggest that the women’s own strong academic expectations, coupled with high levels of academic and emotional support were key factors in their educational and career success. This study extends the existing body of research literature on the persistent underachievement of immigrant and English Learners through an expanded understanding and application of the concepts of cultural capital and cultural responsiveness in education.