Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kathryn P. Alessandria, PhD

Committee Member

Rachel Daltry, PhD

Committee Member

Lesley Siegel, PhD


This qualitative study examined the experiences of student affairs administration-prepared (SAAP) professionals’ application of knowledge and skills to interact with grieving students and the ways in which their respective SAAP programs prepared them for this work. This study examined (a) the experiences of SAAP professionals supporting a student navigating grief loss at one case study institution and (b) reflections on the application of skills and knowledge gained from their education preparation programs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three full-time SAAP professionals at a single institution, and a comparative analysis of their educational preparation curriculum was conducted. Participants were asked to reflect on their experiences supporting students navigating a grief loss. The data from this study provided two major themes as important factors in supporting students in a grief transition: helping skills applied in practice and curricular influences on preparation to assist grieving students. This study also investigated how participants’ SAAP education programs prepared them to support students transitioning through a loss. The results indicated that while there are various curricular foci available in SAAP education programs leading to a position as a student affairs professional, there are similarities in their experiences when supporting a student after a death loss. The qualitative research study’s findings provide recommendations for course curriculum and professional development opportunities at the case study institution.