ABSTRACT This paper focuses on the social and academic experiences of African American Alumnae who attended predominantly White higher education institutions Saint Mary’s College. A survey was administered to alumnae from these institutions to assess the quality of their educational experience based on academic outcome, social interactions; and their quality of life after graduation. There was a similarity among their experiences pertaining to race across all variables. However most respondents reported that while they had many negative experiences due to their race, they felt comfortable at their academic institution. Overall, most respondents stated that regardless of their experience, they would still recommend their institution to another minority student.
Being Black & Bleeding Blue: A Quantitative look at the Experience of African American Alumni at a Predominantly White Institution.
The racial make-up of a person’s surroundings can impact one’s experience with regards to their comfort level in that environment. As a discipline, sociology addresses such concerns through research on “assimilation” and “dominant culture”. Sociologists describe the affect of a person’s racial surroundings on aspects of their life, especially the educational system.
In institutions of higher education, people may judge their experience by their academic success, social involvement, and their preparation for post-graduate work. However, those factors also depend heavily on a person’s surroundings. A central component of a student’s educational surroundings is the racial make-up of the academic institution in terms of the ratio between minorities and the dominant culture.
African Americans at predominantly White institutions, will assess their overall time in college experiences positive or negative by referencing their experience as a minority student and their own comfort level. Racialzed surroundings have been a factor in American education for hundreds of years at times producing segregation and at other times colleges for Blacks. Today, the influence of racial surroundings in higher education has become less visible on a structural level, but the effects for individual students may be just as extreme.
Administration at various colleges and universities have tried to improve the comfort levels of minority students at predominantly White institutions by implementing diversity programs, extending the curriculum, allowing ethnic organization, and hiring minority faculty. However, African Americans in predominantly White institutions still may experience negative affects that shape a student’s overall college experience. This study will examine the experience and comfort level of African American alumnae of Saint Mary’s College through a racial lens in order to assess their academic success, postgraduate achievements, and advocacy of the institution.