Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Lea Hubbard, PhD, Chairperson; Hans Schmitz, PhD, Committee Member; Lisbeth Johnson, EdD, Committee Member


refugee, interrupted education, trauma, adversities, school


Every year, more than 65 million people are displaced worldwide. These refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people flee conflict, poverty, environmental degradation, and other conditions forcing them from their homes. In 2020, the number of individuals internally displaced reached 82.4 million; of this total, 26.4 million were refugees. In 2021, of the 11,411 refugees resettled in the United States, 8.6% resettled in California. When refugee students come to San Diego, the majority resettle in the neighborhoods of City Heights and El Cajon. These refugee children have lived on the road or in refugee camps, faced consistent interruptions to a formal education, and experienced trauma. Most educators have received little or no training on how to address academic and social needs of refugee students. These students come from a variety of home countries with diverse backgrounds. Knowing how to help them is further complicated by limited research on the lived experiences of refugee students from their own perspectives. Knowing how to address the barriers that prevent these students from performing well in school and improving their lives is essential. This qualitative research study documented the experiences of nine refugee high school students attending one charter school in City Heights that serves many refugee students. Using a narrative qualitative research approach, the study focused on students’ premigration and postmigration experiences to generate critical knowledge about the challenges they continue to face and how the school site has arranged to support their success. The study can serve as a resource to understand how to help refugee students enculturate into a new educational setting. The study informs stakeholders interested in issues related to trauma and refugee students and as to how they can construct more effective educational practices to support their academic success and overall well-being.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

Included in

Education Commons