Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2017 Chinyere Odim. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Daniel Laurison

Second Advisor

Edwin Mayorga


Black women at liberal arts colleges in the United States come from a diverse set of class backgrounds, yet are often grouped together into one experience. Overlooking these intra-group differences is detrimental to the growth and development of these women during their four years on campus. The purpose of this study is to 1) explore the diversity in experience of black women on campus, and identify trends across different social classes; 2) focus on how these differences impact the way they interact with their college environment; 3) gain a better understanding of what it takes to exist on these campuses. My findings reflect issues relating to their economic challenges, varying levels of academic preparedness, and inter-personal interactions reflective
of widespread perceptions of black women in society. Are these women able to exist on campus without financial burden? Does social class background play a role in the seamlessness of their transition to college academics? Are there ways in which they are expected to perform based on their background? This case study aims to answer these questions by examining the extent to which socioeconomic status affects black women’s academic, social, and political experiences in college, and what tools they employ when navigating these predominantly white spaces.