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Title:"I am not beneath you because I am from a different continent, I am also like you!": Nigerian college students make meaning of racial and ethnic identity at a predominantly white institution
Author(s):Onyenekwu, Ifeyinwa Uchechi Cindy
Director of Research:Hood, Denice W.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hood, Denice W.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Trent, William T.; McCarthy, Cameron R.; Baber, Lorenzo D.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Nigerian college students
Identity Formation
Abstract:For college students, academic and social issues play a huge role in their higher education experience. This experience is exceptionally complicated for diverse Black populations, who often have to negotiate their complex racial and ethnic space in the United States. My research investigates underrepresented cultures from Africa - namely Nigeria - whose ethnic background is often considered invisible in the U.S. This research examines how Nigerian college students make meaning of their racial and ethnic identity at a Predominately White Institution. Detailed interviews were conducted with 20 self-identified Nigerian college students at a Midwestern public research university. Participants varied from international students to U.S. born Nigerian students. This study finds that Nigerian college students embrace their various racial and ethnic identities and utilize terms such as African, African-American, Nigerian, transnational Nigerian, Nigerian-American, 1st generation American, Black, Igbo and Yoruba to describe their racial and ethnic identity. In this sense, students are not trying to gain a monolithic identity; instead they are weighing their options and determining their possibilities based on their lived experiences. Furthermore, their understanding of which term was associated with race or ethnicity varies. This research aligns with previous studies on Black immigrants and shows that identity is fluid and influenced by the social context. However, it diverges from previous studies by shedding light on the significance of citizenship, native language fluency, accent, and parent education in Nigerian college students’ experiences. Recommendations for college personnel and policymakers are offered.
Issue Date:2015-04-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Ifeyinwa Onyenekwu
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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