Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




James P. Barber

Committee Member

Eddie R. Cole

Committee Member

Kevin Hughes


Undergraduate experiences can have a profound impact on a student’s emotional connection and affinity for their alma mater. For many graduates, involvement experiences like student organizations, membership in fraternities and sororities, and on-campus jobs can become an ingrained part of the individual’s social identity. This phenomenological study examines the experiences of young alumni at Christopher Newport University (CNU) through interviews with members of the class of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. The research examines their experiences through the lens of Social Identity Theory, particularly the components of prestige and distinctiveness that are believed to increase connection to an identity or group. The results of this study indicated that meaningful relationships, skill development, and individually curated experiences were the practices most likely to increase the perceived prestige and distinctiveness of the institution. The most frequent outcomes from students with these experiences were continued service to CNU through giving back, and a sense of connection to the positive growth of the institution.



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