Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Cuyjet, Michael J.

Author's Keywords

Female veterans; Engagement; Identity; Narrative inquiry


Women Veterans--United States; Military discharge--United States; Women college students--United States


Through an exploration of identity and enculturation experiences, this narrative inquiry dissertation investigated how female veteran students make meaning of their experiences and renegotiate their understandings of identity after transitioning from the military into the higher education environment. Eighteen female veteran students participated in data collection efforts, which included two interviews, discussion of military artifacts, and journaling. Five of the eighteen individual narratives are presented at length in the study to illustrate the diversity found amongst the study population. Findings for the five were synthesized into individual narratives and poetic representations of identity. Emerging across the stories of the eighteen participants are shared narratives of renegotiating identity, regaining control, social justice advocacy, and engagement. They are presented and described by using detailed excerpts from the participants' journals and interview transcripts. The discussion of renegotiated identity describes the process by which the female veteran students have started to recreate understandings of their identity after exiting from the dominant role of active duty service-member. Framing the shared narratives in a discussion of regaining control and social justice advocacy, provides a way to understand the need of the students to reclaim their sense of ownership over their understandings of self and continued experiences. The shared narrative of engagement explores the commitment of female veterans to higher education. This dissertation is divided into six chapters. Chapters One and Two highlight the significance of my personal narrative to the subject of this study and situate the narratives of female veterans in current literature respectively. Chapter Three discusses the rationale for approaching the female veteran students' experiences and understandings of identity through a narrative inquiry lens; which provides an opportunity to look beyond the dominant discourse of veteran students to consider the voice of the silenced female veteran. Chapter Four focuses on the individual narratives and acknowledges the female veteran students' reflections on the perceived differences and changes to identity experienced after transitioning from military to college life. Chapter Five fully discusses the shared narratives of identity, regaining control, becoming social justice advocates, and engagement. Implications for both the military and higher education communities are discussed in Chapter Six.