Date of Award

Fall 10-28-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Lee

Second Advisor

Dr. George Giokaris

Third Advisor

Dr. Len Hightower


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study is to use Activity Theory to identify and describe the personal and academic supports of multilingual doctoral alumni at a private, non-profit university in California.

Methodology: This study was a phenomenological study that identified and described the lived experiences of 15 multilingual alumni that completed a doctorate program at a private, non-profit university. Participants were selected using criterion sampling. Data was collected, analyzed, and triangulated between interview data and artifacts. Data was then coded, themed, and organized with reference to Activity Theory.

Findings: Examination of the data found that multilingual alumni from a doctoral program experienced four personal supports, three personal barriers, three academic supports, and two academic barriers. Activity Theory was used to codify themes into four categories. Tools represented the most significant support that alumni leveraged. Rules and tools presented the most significant barriers for alumni. There were also three unexpected barriers that were identified.

Conclusions: Based on the findings of this study, 13 conclusions were identified that offer insight into the barriers and supports those nonnative English-speaking alumni experienced in a doctoral program at a private, non-profit university. Conclusions demonstrate that students require increased flexibility and empathy from members of personal and academic support networks. Additionally, 14 implications for action were identified.

Recommendations: 9 recommendations for further research were identified. Further research should be conducted to expand on the findings from this study. The barriers and supports that permeate throughout nonnative English speakers’ personal and academic communities may also be present in the experiences of other demographics. The findings from this study reveal the interrelated network of challenges and supports that exist for multilingual students, so future studies are needed to further define these phenomena.