Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Cynthia Reyes

Second Advisor

Pablo Bose


Continuing political conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have pushed many individuals to seek refuge in other countries. The U.S. has remained one of the preferred destinations for refugees and immigrants from various parts of the world (UNHCR, 2022). After entering the host country, Congolese children, like other refugees, must adapt to a society with different customs, learn the English language, attend school, and interact with their peers. They often encounter difficulties regarding their ethnic identity, experiences with microaggression and discrimination, and more nuanced social and behavioral expectations. These reasons might be the most significant factors preventing refugee students from progressing in their educational journeys and successfully integrating into society. Through a qualitative case study, this study led to two dissertation manuscript chapters that examined the perspectives of one Congolese family on their children’s transition to a U.S. college education. In the first manuscript, I drew upon the tenets of Critical Race Theory to focus on the racialized perspectives of the family’s experience in U.S. higher education. In the second manuscript, I utilized Tara Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) model to examine the children’s experiences transitioning from high school to college. The use of these two frameworks contributed to a deeper understanding of the intersectional experiences of this transnational family as they related to their post-secondary aspirations and transition from high school to college. This study sought to reframe the conversation about families with refugee experiences from pity and benevolence to resilience and familial resourcefulness.



Number of Pages

265 p.

Available for download on Friday, April 03, 2026