Publication Date

Spring 5-12-2018

Document Type

Action research project: Open access

Degree Name

MA Higher Education Leadership


Leadership Studies


The purpose of my research is twofold: to examine the ways that Asian American graduate students within the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) experience a sense of social belonging at the University of San Diego (USD) and to create a means through which their sense of social belonging may be enhanced. There were two cycles, consisting a total of three focus groups, which worked through the four phases of appreciative inquiry. Cultural themes, such as difficulty approaching authority figures, preference for ethnic subgroup identification, and experiences of marginalization by those from within the Asian American community, other people of color, and non-people of color, emerged from the first cycle. This culminated in an expressed desire for more intentional dialogues and mentorship for this graduate student community, which was then further explored in the second cycle. Recommendations include a space where Asian American graduate students can voice their unique concerns, needs, and experiences directly to faculty members and administrators, along with the creation of a mentorship program that supports them through their transition into SOLES.