Native leaders in the new millenium: An examination of success factors of Native American males at Harvard College

LeManuel Lee Bitsoi, University of Pennsylvania


The recent trend of more females than males graduating from college is prevalent for all minority groups in the U.S.; however, at Harvard College, from 2000-2004, the number of Native American male and female graduates is almost even (22 males v. 27 females). Such statistics compelled me to examine and describe the factors of success (including persistence and resilience characteristics) for Native American male alumni of Harvard College (graduates since 2000). Moreover, there is substantial literature that focuses on the pathology of failure for Native Americans in higher education, but there is minimal research regarding the characteristics of success for American Indian students. There is an obvious need for more positive research regarding American Indians in the academy. Therefore, I employed portraiture (which allows the researcher to explore what is "good") to answer my research question(s) and to determine pathways of survival and success for Native American male alumni of Harvard College. I identified the following emergent themes: the role of family and parents in participants' preparation for college (particularly the influence of their mothers), with an emphasis on their preparation for college; financing a Harvard education; academics; family and community at Harvard; Native American identity in college and the role of Harvard's Native American organizations; advice for prospective Native American students; and, finally, leadership development. As an American Indian male and scholar, my viewpoint enriches this valuable study, and I am confident that my findings will assist prospective Native American students who aspire to pursue higher education. In addition, this study and its findings will benefit educators and administrators who serve Native American students to better prepare them for higher education. Furthermore, admissions offices and student support programs on America's college campuses can draw upon this study to be more successful in their recruitment and retention endeavors for Native American students. Lastly, this could serve as a plausible prescription for effective strategies to enable American Indian students to be successful in higher education.

Subject Area

Native Americans|Native studies|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Bitsoi, LeManuel Lee, "Native leaders in the new millenium: An examination of success factors of Native American males at Harvard College" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255879.