Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Delores E. McNair

First Committee Member

Elizabeth H. Keithcart

Second Committee Member

Sharla Berry


Traditionally, in our globally diverse and intertwined society, study abroad has served as a valuable, enriching, and life-changing aspect of college and university offerings and opportunities for students. Today, the lives of post-study abroad students will be defined by the ways they make sense of unexpected major events surrounding the history-changing COVID-19 pandemic and the contemporary protests against racism and social injustice. A large body of research exists on study abroad, culture shock, self-authorship, provocative moments, cross-cultural reentry, and reverse culture shock. A lack of research exists on what ways post-study abroad U.S. students make meaning of their experiences in emerging self-authorship, and research on post-study abroad students and the COVID-19 pandemic is rare. The overarching purpose of this exploratory inquiry was to describe in what ways, if any, that the post-study abroad experience facilitates the development of emerging self-authorship of U.S. college students. Self-authorship provided the theoretical framework for this inquiry. Clarke and Braun’s reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyze the interviews and journals of two U.S. post-study abroad college students. The findings revealed that the post-study abroad experience facilitated the development of emerging self-authorship of U.S. college students through the themes of pain, partnerships, and perspective, with grief layered among each of these themes. The students eventually accepted their realities of post-study abroad, found meaning, and showed signs of nudging ahead in emerging self-authorship. The implications from this inquiry provided ways for stakeholders to support students through their post-study abroad experiences and support emerging self-authorship.