Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Mary Bair

Second Advisor

Karyn Rabourn

Third Advisor

Leifa Mayers

Fourth Advisor

Marlene Kowalski-Braun

Academic Year



One of the many ways higher education institutions attempt to provide students with an opportunity to examine conflicting identities is through study abroad experiences. The purpose of this study was to explore how White college women make meaning of their privileged and oppressed identities after returning from studying abroad in a non-European country. It focused specifically on issues related to their gender identity, racial identity, and their nationality. This qualitative study was rooted in grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014). The theoretical frameworks guiding this study were the Model of Multiple Dimensions of Identity (MMDI) (Jones & McEwen, 2000; Abes, Jones, & McEwen, 2007), the Disintegration stage in Helm’s Model of White Racial Identity Development (Helms, 1990), and Transformative Learning Theory (Mezirow, 1997). Criterion for inclusion in this study included the following self-identifications, (a) White, (b) woman, (c) current student at Midwest University (MU) (pseudonym), and (d) participation in a study abroad program to a non-European country through MU. Participants engaged in an in-person individual interview with the researcher for approximately one hour to an hour-and-a-half. Data were analyzed using Charmaz’s (2014) analytical approach. This system included initial coding, focused coding, axial coding, theoretical coding, and memo writing. The three main themes that emerged were: (a) Identity understanding, (b) Factors that influenced study abroad experiences, and (c) Coping. Findings provided insight into how White college women make meaning of their identities and experiences after studying abroad in a non- European country.