Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Jane Jensen


The military has long-standing partnerships with institutions of higher education (Leporte, 2013; Parks, 2015 & Massie, 2016). These partnerships have been significant over time because the United States Army has incentivized civilian education via the Army enlisted ranks and promotional structure (Wilson, Smith, Lee & Stevenson, 2013). Researchers are beginning to recognize service members as adult students who need specific supports in an educational setting (Wilson et al., 2013; Leporte, 2013; Parks, 2015; Massie, 2016). Enlisted soldiers arrive on college campuses with identities ascribed and molded by the military. Thus, their primary identity is soldier not student (Nagel & Kleykamp, 2007; Wilson et al., 2013& Massie, 2016).

Community colleges specialize in providing educational opportunities to all facets of the community (Kane & Rouse, 1999). The current cultural diversity discourse does not include military personnel and the degree in which institutions of higher education seek to integrate via policy and practice with the military. This qualitative study explores the perceptions of the ten enlisted soldiers who participated in a semi-structured interview and completed a demographic questionnaire. I used the Collective Affiliation model (Davidson, 2011) to analyze the data generated from the soldier-students interviews regarding their educational experiences at Hopkinsville Community College Fort Campbell Campus.

The research participants discussed family support and expectations, preparation for life after the Army, reenlistment incentive programs, and civilian education embedded into promotional points as aspirations for college attendance. Lastly, the soldiers described their educational experiences as navigating military, family and academic bureaucracies to encompass; balancing multiple roles as adult students, discovering the opportunities and challenges of military educational benefits, enrollment experiences as community college students, and faculty interactions and support in the classroom. From this research study, I created the Dual System for Enlisted Soldier-Student Academic Persistence (DSAP) conceptual model to illustrate the lived experiences of enlisted soldiers as students specifically. The findings of this research add to the body of knowledge of the educational experiences of enlisted soldier-students attending community college.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)