Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Autumn Edwards

Second Advisor

Dr. Steve Rhodes

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


Because single mothers tend to bear sole responsibility for raising their children, frequently head single-income households, and sometimes face significant social stigma, this population faces unique challenges in obtaining undergraduate and graduate educations (Side!, 2006). This study applied the framework of memorable messages (Knapp, Stohl, & Reardon, 1981) to gain information about the impact of communicative experiences on the lives of single mothers pursuing college degrees. Memorable messages are communicative moments comprised of short sentences that people remember for lengthy time spans and find influential to their life decisions and behavior (Knapp et al., 1981 ). The application of the memorable message framework facilitated an exploration of the meanings, emotions, and behavioral choices single mothers as college students associate with such messages. This study employed in-depth, face-to-face interviews (K vale, 1996) with 12 single mothers striving to succeed in an educational environment that is often wrought with obstacles (Polakow, Butler, Deprez, & Kahn, 2004). The findings from this research show why memorable messages are reported as memorable and yield important implications regarding the connection between memorable messages and the negotiation of identity for single mothers earning undergraduate and graduate degrees.

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