Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dawn Hunter, PhD

Second Advisor

Margaret Grogan, PhD

Third Advisor

Meredith Dorner, PhD


The purpose of this study was to identify aspects of home life, college life, or high school preparation that supported the success of students with disabilities at community colleges. As students with disabilities are rarely represented in the literature, this study offered a space for students with disabilities to share their voice and further develop their sense of agency. The six participants had a range of disabilities and enrolled in Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) at their community college. They had all completed at least one year and three students were completing their final year and had plans in place to transfer to a 4-year university the following school year. Each participant engaged in two individual interviews and a series of three focus groups. The focus groups used photovoice to highlight aspects of student lives that lead to their success in community college. Participants identified engagement with learning, health and wellness, self-reliance, trusting relationships, and diversity and inclusion as factors that contributed to their success. All participants mentioned stress or anxiety impacted their success. A large portion of the photos participants took centered around ways to reduce stress or anxiety or ways to maintain focus and engagement in class, particularly when feeling stressed or anxious. The students identified a list of recommendations they wanted to share with colleges to create greater access and support future students with disabilities. Implications and areas of future research are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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