Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Barbara Thayer-Bacon

Committee Members

Allison Anders, Robert Kronick, Diana Moyer


This research study specifically addressed; how vocational preparedness programs effect the career aspirations of Black youth, within the context of the Middle Tennessee Council Boy Scouts of America’s Exploring program. The goal of this research is to represent Black youth participating in a vocational preparedness program. Interviews, journals, and rich, thick descriptions are utilized in this work.

Using the lens of narrative inquiry and cultural studies, I hoped to further the field of career development through the experiences of some of its key players, African American youth. Within the context of their stories five major themes surfaced around the ideas: (1) Advancement via Individual Determination. (AVID), (2) Career Self-efficacy, (3) Roles of significant others in career development, (4) Perceptions of the Exploring program, and (5) what would you like to see happen in the Exploring program?

Beyond themes expressed by the research participants, the following underlying factors also came to light; (1) giving voice to Black youth which are part of the marginalized minority population and restoring a sense of narrative power and authority to the youths telling the stories, (2) The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program as a significant influencer, (3) structure and organization of the Learning for Life program, (4) the role of Black women as significant others in the career decisions of participants, and (5) career choice – trade vs. careers.

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