Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Peterson, Donna J.

Committee Member

Downey, Laura Hall

Committee Member

Buys, David R.

Committee Member

Morrison, Carley Calico

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Agricultural and Extension Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


Scholars have consistently showcased the need for more research dedicated to Black adolescents on educational aspirations and depression. Within this population, there is a gap in the literature about how college preparatory students and career and technical education (CTE) students are different and similar on educational aspirations and depression. The National Survey of American Life-Adolescent Supplement (NSAL-A) is a data set that is often used to evaluate the onset of mental health issues in adolescents of African descent. This data set is unique in that it only includes responses from African American and Caribbean Black adolescents. The NSAL- A allows researchers to develop research agendas that cater to Black adolescents. The concepts in this dissertation, educational aspirations and depression, have been separated into two manuscripts to allow for a more thorough analysis. A subset of the NSAL-A (n=491) was used for both manuscripts. The first manuscript uses univariate and bivariate analyses to test the relationship between personal mastery and racial centrality on educational aspirations. The findings from this study revealed that college preparatory students and CTE students had different levels of personal mastery and that personal mastery increased educational aspirations. No significant findings were revealed for the influence of racial centrality on educational aspirations. The second manuscript in this study uses univariate and bivariate analyses to investigate the relationship between discrimination and the John Henryism coping style on depression in college preparatory and CTE students. John Henryism is characterized by having a strong commitment to achieving success while facing social and economic barriers. college preparatory and CTE students were not uniquely different in their levels of perceived discrimination or John Henryism. Discrimination increased depression, and John Henryism reduced depression. The manuscripts developed in this dissertation will help Extension professionals better advocate for Black youth and encourage program evaluators to investigate ethnic differences in health outcomes. This work may also encourage 1890 Land-grant universities in working with primarily Black communities.