Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Spencer Clark


The objective of these oral histories was to examine, explain and reveal the success of a small group of Saudia (female Saudis) whose studies at a mid-Western American university through the medium of English (their second or third language). Four students were randomly selected from a group of volunteers, based on their successful completion of the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, plus a year of other academic classes in the university. One student, who had not completed the ESL program, was admitted to the master of English program having passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test at the required level.

The student participants were interviewed a number of times in the course of the study and after the completion of the writing to check the evidence. The interviews were semi-structured to allow the participants to expand as they desired. The data was analyzed using the theories of Islamic feminism and intersectionality to discover how the students were able to succeed in a profoundly different school and social culture as an English Language Learner (ELL) where many other ELLs fail to complete a degree program. Attention was focused on the participants explanations of their successes, failures and challenges.