Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Joretha Bourjolly, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Stefanie Mollborn, Ph.D.


Objective: While becoming a teenage parent brings about significant emotional and financial challenges, there are cases in which, in the midst of these negative statistics and results, some of the outcomes are positive through the trajectory of the adolescent’s life. There are women who have been able to overcome the disadvantages of early parenthood and emerged stronger and more capable as a result of the personal growth they experienced. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the promotive factors that facilitated educational attainment in the form of college degrees for Black and Latina women who were teenage mothers. This study aimed to understand the lived experiences of women who were once teen mothers, yet were able to overcome their circumstances and pursue higher levels of education. The ways that they were able to effectively balance parenting responsibilities in the midst of pursuing academic goals were examined. Additionally, the challenges and obstacles associated with attaining a college degree while being a teenage parent were explored.

Methods: A content analysis approach was used to analyze the data. The data was elicited through the use of a flexible format, consisting of open-ended questions and themes. The interviews were semi-structured, face to face and 45 to 60 minutes in duration. Interviews were recorded and transcribed.Of the 15 women who participated in this study, nine identified as Black and six identified as Latina. Resiliency theory was used as the theoretical framework to help understand the promotive factors, those assets and resources, that facilitated educational attainment in the form of college degrees.

Results: The data illustrated common themes that provided insight and an understanding of the lived experiences of the participants as teenage mothers in pursuit of educational achievement. The interviews elicited accounts of their experiences on how they were able to attain academic success in the form of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Analysis of the data highlighted three major themes that illustrated how the participants of this study were able to attain college degrees after a teenage birth. Promotive Factors: Assets and Resources, Balancing Parenting Responsibilities and the Academic Pursuit and Challenges and Obstacles While Being a Teenage Mother and Going to School were the three major themes that emerged from the data.

Conclusion: The findings of this research study demonstrate that educational attainment for teenage mothers is possible with the appropriate assets and resources in place. The findings of this research study provide a glimpse into the experiences of teenage mothers and the difficulties that they face in reaching academic heights. The findings provide information for social work professionals and implications for social work practice.

Included in

Social Work Commons