A Phenomenological Exploration of Non-academic Services Offered Through the Center for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Community colleges have a long history of providing entrance to higher education to minority students who enroll in these institutions underprepared and deprived of basic needs. With limited resources, community college leaders are expected to assist students in academic pursuits. The Center for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (Center for EDI) was developed using a transformational leadership approach to help address students' holistic needs at a small urban community college in Connecticut. The problem was despite the provision of non-academic support services in post-secondary education, much was not known about the benefits of the services through the experiences of the students, and in some cases, services were under-utilized. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences of urban community college students on the use of non-academic services offered by the Center for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the overall influence of services on retention. Transformational leadership theory directed the study. Research questions focused on the experiences of students using non-academic services at the Center for EDI and the non-academic support services influence on student retention. The qualitative phenomenological study consisted of 17 participants who were identified by means of criterion sampling. A field-tested semi-structured interview instrument was used for data collection. Interviews were administered through Zoom online platform. Peoples’ six steps flow chart was employed to conduct the data analysis. The compelling accounts presented by participants engendered four major themes. Findings revealed non-academic support services influenced semester-to-semester retention. Further inquiry should be conducted to corroborate the findings.