Birnbaum, Matthew

Committee Member

Guido, Florence M.

Committee Member

Low, Michelle

Committee Member

Krahnke, Keiko


Doctor of Philosophy


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



262 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Four undergraduate students shared stories of their experiences while navigating a Predominately White Mainland Institution. Using a social constructivist hermeneutic Indigenous theory, this qualitative research study involved both focus groups, and semistructured interviews at a Carnegie research institution. Each of the focus groups and semi-structured interviews involved all of the four participants. Participant profiles were created that reflected five themes in attending a mainland university. Analysis of the data revealed five themes: cultural differences, sacredness of land, The Aloha Spirit, relationships, and leaving the mainland without a college degree. Through further analysis, cultural differences revealed a sub-theme, microaggressions and developing a minority status. Relationships revealed three subthemes, including ancestors, importance of being together, and talking Pidgin. Implications and recommendations for student affairs practitioners included development of a student development model that is centered on the experiences of Native Hawaiian students. For senior level administrators, findings from this inquiry called for continued investments into a campus culture center specifically for Native Hawaiian students. In addition, re-engineering pipelines to connect Native Hawaiian students back “to place” to stay connected to their land and geographical connections, constructing an accessible space to explore their own culture and history.

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Copyright is held by the author.