Madeline Azari


Birnbaum, Matthew


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences


University of Northern Colorado

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Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



35 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Hawthorne High School sits approximately four blocks away from Rocky Mountain University in Hawthorne, CO. The University attracts multiple Hawthorne graduates each year, and in return, the city and the University aid in financing and aiding these students on a path towards a bachelor’s degree. Due to Hawthorne’s agricultural background and diverse multicultural demographics, the attendance of students from Hawthorne (a high school of about 1,500) at Rocky Mountain University (a school of about 12,000) remains a phenomenon for students in these types of communities. In association with the relationship that the high school, community, and the University share, this phenomenological study uncovers themes explored from the lived-experiences of attending college in your hometown. Between 10-15 Hawthorne High School graduates—who consider Hawthorne, CO as their hometown—participated in either an interview or a focus group. The interviews and focus groups addressed topics relating to the lived experiences of these students, including the topics of identity development, success at Rocky Mountain University, and the relationship to community through college. To better analyze the responses of the participants, the responses were split into categories based on Marcia Baxter Magolda’s Theory of Self-Authorship. The participants involved in the study helped in clarifying the successes, downfalls, and surprises of attending college in one’s hometown so that future students and researchers in higher education and student affairs can understand the influential experiences that could help or hinder a student’s success through this phenomenon. With little research or literature regarding the phenomenon of students attending college in their hometown, this study remains crucial in accessing information that has not yet been uncovered. The research acquired in this study also acts as a catalyst for directors and staff in various enrollment departments through Universities (including Housing, Admissions, Orientation, etc.) to harness a foundation of understanding for future enrollment of students from these populations.

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Copyright is held by the author.