Mechanisms of Resiliency: A Study of Former At-Risk Women Who are Now Serving in Successful Leadership Positions in Belize





Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

First Advisor

Marcia Lamkin Ed.D

Second Advisor

Carolyn Williams Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Pritchy Smith Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

John Kemppainen, Ph.D.

Department Chair

E. Newton. Jackson, Jr. Ph.D.

College Dean

Larry G. Daniel, Ph.D.


This study is about women leaders in the Belizean society, and the way a few of them were able to overcome cultural, gender, traditional, political, and societal barriers. Eight women were purposefully selected to participate in this study. Of the eight women selected, four were potentially at-risk which, within the context of this study, was defined as not being able to complete high school in a traditional setting, becoming pregnant as an adolescent, and having limitations due to financial hardship. The remaining four participants were never at-risk in their adolescence. Although only four of the eight women selected were truly at-risk during their adolescence, all the women encountered numerous obstacles as they pursued their journeys to success. The study considered these eight women by evaluating in which mechanisms of resiliency they engaged, if any, while on their journeys to success. Each participant chronicled her life’s experiences through personal interviews and key factors were considered which identified the relevant models of resiliency. This study utilized qualitative methodological design. Interviews were used as the primary data collection tool, and analysis of the resulting text was used to examine the impact of the following factors: dropping out of high school, earning a standard education, political victimization, and gender discrimination. All three models of resiliency were evident in the life stories of each participant; however, those at-risk of not being able to finish high school seemed to make stronger use of the protective model and the compensatory model, whereas those who went on to choose public life seemed to reflect responses more in the challenge model.

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