The experiences of ethnic minority RAs at a Primarily White Institution: A qualitative study
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Student engagement, leadership opportunities and student employment are associated with increased retention and persistence. The resident assistant (RA) position merges all three of these areas to provide a potentially enriching and impactful experience. This dissertation presents the results of a qualitative study, highlighting the experiences and voices of ethnic minority RAs at a Primarily White Institution (PWI). Major themes are related to connection and impact, with an underlying theme of striving for familiarity in an environment of difference. Framed in Critical Race Theory, this study presents the experiences of ethnic minority RAs at a PWI through their words, perceptions and feelings. Challenges connecting to various parts of the PWI created feelings of self-doubt, particularly related to academic performance as well as connections with other students. Positive relationships with residence hall staff during the participants' first year influenced them to pursue the RA position. Within the position, participants shared pride in their ability to impact the experience of other students as peer leaders. The RA position mitigated challenges associated with being an ethnic minority student at a PWI, having a positive impact on the participants' college experiences.