Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Connie Lightfoot

Second Advisor

Scott Gaier

Third Advisor

Scott Moeschberger


Female leadership development is an important and relevant topic. In an effort to connect female college leadership experiences to career women 12-18 years post-graduation, this study looked at the impact on career women of mentors, role models, and defining moments during college leadership experiences. Mentoring is an important element for the formation of women in leadership, both in college and in the workplace. Because of limited available mentors, role models and defining moments were also investigated for their impact on female leadership development. Results from this study suggest that there are significant ways women are shaped by their college leadership opportunities: development of leadership style, confidence development, and resilience emerged as the strongest themes. Mentoring, role models, and defining moments had significant impacts on the participants’ leadership development, particularly in the areas of encouragement of leadership skills and confidence development. Peer influence was an unexpected theme that emerged; each participant mentioned the impact that peers had on their leadership development. Encouragement emerged as a strong theme in this study and serves as an implication for practitioners of student development and faculty. Encouragement to female students, especially as it relates to leadership, is important because the women in this study often did not view themselves as leaders until given encouragement.