The purpose of the study was to explore the experience of 13 Black, National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) sorority members as they relate to their academic achievement and civic engagement. Participants were female, upperclassmen students at four different Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), half private and the other public. Criterion, purposive, and snowball sampling were used to secure participants.
Using the Community of Practice as a theoretical framework, which is comprised of five stages, participants’ experiences were described, analyzed, and interpreted to inform the study. Data were collected through individual phone interviews, using a semi-structured interview protocol, and were analyzed using inductive analysis.
Four themes emerged from the inductive analysis and those themes derived subthemes: (a) Support- (1) academic support, (2) financial support, and (3) engaging and influence; (b) Academic Intention- (1) understanding academic achievement before sorority membership, and (2) understanding academic achievement after sorority membership; (c) Service- (a) civic engagement, (b) volunteering, and (c) filling a need; lastly, (d) Social Awareness- (a) personal service goals, (b) personal social responsibility, and (c) understanding civic engagement agents.
The study provided implications for practitioners in higher education, such as the need to understand the historical significance, to advise these groups in a comprehensive manner, to conduct further research on the experiences of graduate chapter members caused by life experiences, and to identify sorority interests prior to membership for optimal outcomes. The study findings have implications for future support, research, and resources offered in helping these women navigate both student life and sorority membership. It is recommended that future researchers continue to examine the experiences of Black, NPHC sorority women, in order to inform higher education practitioners to better assist with their growth and development.