Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Larry L. Dlugosh. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Dion T. Gaston


The purpose of this study was to explore the perception of adolescents of the Imperial Courts Housing Projects about school completion, gang membership, and career opportunities from the perspective of current youth gang members who reside in the Imperial Courts. Nineteen youths participated in this study. The research population consisted of youths who identified themselves as member of the neighborhood gang. Each youth was interviewed individually by the researcher to gather information about school completion, educational and career resources, gang membership, and role models and mentors.

The researcher developed the survey used in this study specifically for use in this project. The twenty-three item survey contained questions that were intended to collect information about career exploration and selections, college awareness and selections, assistance with classroom and homework assignments, tutoring, college admission procedures, knowledge of the classes necessary for college entrance, knowledge of the college entrance exams, college visits and overnight academic summer camps. The researcher used qualitative coding techniques to analyze the participants’ responses.

In general, all youths indicated that they belong to the neighborhood gang. All reported that they were born and raised in the community as part of their initiation into the gang. All the youths acknowledged their gang membership by the age of fifteen with one indicating his membership by the age of five. Eighteen of the nineteen youths indicated that they were not familiar with career exploration, and while they were in school, seventeen indicated that they were not provided with enough information to help them obtain a career. Eighteen of the nineteen youths indicated that while in school, their school did not provide them with the proper help with assignments like tutoring. Lastly, all the youths indicated that they did not know about college admissions and not familiar with the classes necessary to get into college. Only two of the youths knew about the college entrance exams and eighteen believe that college is non-affordable.

Advisor: Larry L. Dlugosh