Date of Award



© 2016 Andrea Disque

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carol Holmquist

Second Advisor

Michelle Collay

Third Advisor

Ashley Gleiman


The purpose of my study was to explore the experiences of senior enlisted military wives and document how the military lifestyle has affected their ability to attain higher education while their servicemember was on active duty. Specifically, my study focused on senior enlisted military wives who have chosen to pursue their higher education through distance learning. The study portrayed experiences of those spouses who are an integral component of today’s military, yet who are often unseen not only in the military world and the civilian sector, but also in higher education. In the study, I explored four research questions:

1) How do the life experiences of a senior enlisted military wife align with the features of a Model Military Wife in the contemporary era as described by Enloe (2000)?

2) How do the challenges and demands of the role of a senior enlisted military wife affect fulfillment of their educational goals?

3) How has the experience of distance learning contributed to transformations for the senior enlisted military wife?

In my study, I documented the narratives of senior enlisted military wives and described their educational journeys. Narrative inquiry allowed the five participants in my study to share their stories of their educational journeys. Their narratives were restoried and two categories of themes emerged:

1) Challenges of the military lifestyle.

2) Opportunities of the military lifestyle.

From these themes, several findings were identified and recommendations determined for the military community and higher education. The experiences of the senior enlisted wives in my study point to a need for more support and a better understanding of the numerous opportunities that are available to help them along their educational journeys. I recommend that institutions of higher learning survey current military spouses to determine what types of programs, services, and support could better assist them with their educational journeys. I also recommended that university personnel be informed of the challenges that military spouses face and understand that this population does not often fit within the mold of a nontraditional student. In addition, I recommend that the military-provided services such as military education centers, libraries, and other offices that assist military spouses in relation to education make an extra effort to inform and discuss better the different education opportunities with the military spouses in their community. Meeting with military spouses to discuss their interests and educational goals is paramount. My study extends the existing literature available about military spouses and ignites interest in military spouse learners as a separate population of learners.


Ed.D. Dissertation