Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Ashley Payne


The strong Black woman schema (SBW) is known to be a salient aspect of Black womanhood. This culturally specific schema can be understood as a protective factor against the social inequities that Black women are subjected to. However, not much is known on how the SBW schema informs Black college women’s gendered racial identity development and how it informs their navigation of PWIs. The purpose of this study is to explore the strong Black woman schema and how it informs the gendered racial identity development of Black college women/non-binary students and their navigation of PWIs. This study will also address the SBW schema and its implications on the mental health. This study consists of fifteen participants between the ages of 19-22. Their experiences were examined in regard to their gendered racial identity development, navigation of PWIs, and mental health as it pertained to the SBW schema. The results revealed (1) participants are redefining the SBW schema to better fit their gendered racial identities (2) participants are seeking out community and mentors to build upon their notions of strength while navigating PWIs (3) participants are navigating PWIs with their redefinitions of strength (4) participants are developing adaptive coping mechanisms to fight against the SBW schema.


strong, Black, women, identity, development, navigation, PWIs, mental health, non-binary, college

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Development Studies | Higher Education | Multicultural Psychology | Urban Studies and Planning


© Whitney Ngozi Akalugwu

Open Access