Factors Contributing to Resilience for Women Pursuing Higher Education: A Focus on Central Appalachia

The Central Appalachian region of the United States is steeped in history and culture. Family influences and rich traditions influence daily life and interactions on a regular basis. Women of Central Appalachia are the backbone of the culture that characteristically overlooks the need for opportunities for personal and professional development. Geographical and economic factors also influence whether women are able to pursue development opportunities, including training and higher education. The New Opportunity School for Women, founded by Jane Stephenson, provides a unique opportunity for women to improve their circumstances by enrolling in a program that fosters self-esteem, personal achievement, provides social support, and appreciation for their roots while establishing a foundation for their future. This study seeks to examine factors that contribute to resilience for these women who are identified as older, non-traditional students. By examining data obtained from current and past participants, as well as outcomes from assessment through The Resilience Scale and the Satisfaction with Life Scale, protective effects as well as the influence of other factors are reviewed in detail. A review of the literature and implications for future research is included.