Honors Theses

Document Type


Date of Completion

Spring 5-5-2023

Academic Year



​Behavioral Sciences

Academic Major


Faculty Advisor

James L. Huff, Ph.D.


This study examines the lived experiences of Black women attending a predominantly white Christian university and explores how they navigate social connection and belonging in this context, highlighting identity relevant experiences and intersectionality in layered identities. Literature demonstrates, social connection and belonging is an important aspect of well-being. This study serves to advance or extend theories relating to social connection and belonging by examining in particular the role that identity plays in belonging, specifically considering intersectionality and layered identities. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the researcher conducted in-depth interviews with three Black women who were currently enrolled in the university. The data were analyzed thematically, with four themes being constructed from the analysis: (1) Experiencing racial isolation and disordered visibility, (2) Negotiating the prototypical and lived experience of identity as a hindrance to social connection, (3) Navigating dissonance in faith communities as a source of both safety and threat, and (4) Finding connection in predominantly white spaces and in communities intentionally created for Black students. Considering the ubiquitous and covert narratives that shape Black women’s expectations pertaining to how they experience social connection in predominantly white spaces may provide greater insight into how to promote belonging and social well-being for this population.