Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ann Cranston-Gingras, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cynthia DeLuca, Ph.D.


Change Managemen, Summer, Retention, Higher Education, Transition


Students transitioning from high school to college are met with many challenges beyond academics including social acclimation, campus culture integration, and holistic wellness. Researchers agree that a successful and purposeful transition for incoming college students requires involvement and engagement with peers to help students adapt and increase their likelihood to graduate (Astin, 1999; Kuh, 2009; Tinto, 1998). This autobiographical narrative inquiry reflects on past experiences in assessing the needs of transitioning students at the University of South Florida and developing a purposeful programming model to support students. I aim to help the reader understand my personal commitment to these programs through a reflection of self and guide the reader through critical decision points in the growth of the Academic and Cultural Engagement program (ACE), a summer transition program that originated for out-of-state and international freshmen. Concluding thoughts focus on variables that impact program development, defining strategic priorities and relationships, balancing inconsistencies in authority and accountability, and the power of pivoting.