Exploring Minority Underrepresented Aviation/Aerospace Students’ Mental Health and Success in Higher Education

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Jorge L. D. Albelo
Stacey McIntire
Sophie Dubois
Tahmina Tisha
Kammi Matsumoto
Jack Ho
Luke Jones


As enrollment trends continue to rise in higher education, mental health-related concerns are also on the rise. Underrepresented minority students are tasked with balancing the general pressures of life along with maintaining grades, and oftentimes having to work to pay for college. Therefore, underrepresented minorities’ experiences related to mental health can be unique. Institutions of higher education work to understand the needs of their students so that they can provide better support services and improve retention. The purpose of this study was to understand the perceptions of underrepresented minority students in an undergraduate aviation/aerospace degree program related to mental health. The study focused on how the perceptions of mental health issues, campus climate, social support, and mental health resources enable retention and completion of an undergraduate degree in aviation/aerospace. Targeted focus groups consisting of 17 undergraduate aviation/aerospace students and one graduate aviation student were conducted to understand students’ mental health needs and wants to succeed in higher education based on their lived experiences. Three major themes emerged from the findings: (1) healthy environment promotion and education, (2) setting realistic goals, and (3) understanding available resources. The findings of the study indicated that underrepresented minority aviation/aerospace students must fulfill their needs and wants based on the established themes in order to succeed in higher education and maintain their mental health.

Article Details

Peer-Reviewed Articles
Author Biography

Jorge L. D. Albelo, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Assistant Professor

Aeronautical Science, College of Aviation

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University