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                            Antioch University
AURA - Antioch University Repository and Archive
Grandmothers' Leadership Roles as Reflected in the Lives of High-Achieving Women: A Qualitative Study of the Impact of Grandmothers on Granddaughters During Their Formative Years
	Sylvia E.M. Asante
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PDF with 2nd round edits 20150606 1017pm_Asante. C8. Dissertation.05.22.2015-1
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Antioch University
AURA - Antioch University Repository and Archive

Dissertations & Theses
Student & Alumni Scholarship, including

Dissertations & Theses


Grandmothers' Leadership Roles as Reflected in
the Lives of High-Achieving Women: A Qualitative
Study of the Impact of Grandmothers on
Granddaughters During Their Formative Years
Sylvia E.M. Asante
Antioch University - PhD Program in Leadership and Change

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Recommended Citation
Asante, Sylvia E.M., "Grandmothers' Leadership Roles as Reflected in the Lives of High-Achieving Women: A Qualitative Study of the
Impact of Grandmothers on Granddaughters During Their Formative Years" (2015). Dissertations & Theses. 210.
mailto:[email protected],%[email protected]

Page 2






Submitted to the Ph.D. in Leadership and Change Program

of Antioch University

in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

May, 2015

Page 74


provided challenges that strengthened her resolve to set her sights high and achieve goals in spite

of her dire surroundings.

RMD. RMD is an American who identifies herself as a woman of color (African

American). She is college educated, in her mid-sixties, and lives in the fruit belt, just north of

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She practices Buddhism and is a copy editor and organizer by

profession. RMD facilitated courses in diversity and team development for nonprofits and

business corporations. She has planned, organized, and overseen numerous small-scale and

large-scale events; served as director of admissions for a private high school, and worked as a

corporate secretary. In addition she has served as a regional board member and officer for the

Girl Scouts. As a copy editor she has edited thirty-three books for various publishing houses. She

is the organizer of “Speaking Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address,” a project to encourage

memorization of the great speech.

RMD’s grandmother, Katherine, called “Nana,” lived in Camden, New Jersey, during the

1950s. She had seven grandchildren; RMD was the fifth grandchild. Nana never remarried after

the death of her husband and raised her young children on her own while working as a domestic

servant. She had both courage and strength. In her later years, she worked part-time out of the

home. Significantly, she was a community organizer who registered people to vote and won an

award from the NAACP for her community involvement. She loved her many indoor plants and

kept an immaculate home. In the summer she worked behind the counter at the community pool,

where her grandchildren would come to play and enjoy the water.

Contributions. RMD was deeply influenced by how her grandmother supported herself

financially by working outside the home. The Civil Rights movement also influenced dynamics

at home and in society. RMD also worked to help with household finances. She observed and

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imitated her grandmother’s leadership skills such as activism, cultural awareness, and

engagement in local politics to help create a more egalitarian society.

RR. RR lives on the outskirts of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and is a medical doctor who

practices the Muslim faith. RR is married, with young adult children, and speaks several

languages. She is Indian, in her late 50s, and has lived in Pakistan, England, and Uganda. RR

works at the local hospital, is an advocate for Muslim students, supports cross-cultural events,

and helps to educate the community about the Muslim religion and way of life.

RR’s paternal grandmother (Aziz) was from a small village in central India just outside of

New Delhi. Grandmother was called “Dadi Amma,” and RR was called “Baby.” Dadi Amma

had 30 grandchildren, and RR was the youngest. RR connected with Dadi Amma during the

mid-1950s when her grandmother was about 60 years old. Grandmother was a teacher who was

paid by the government to teach children how to read Arabic and the Quran. These classes were

held inside her home. In a time when girls were not sent to school, she taught the young girls in

the community how to read and write. She was a just person, and the neighbors often would call

her to settle disputes. The community called her “Ammaji” (dear mother). She was very pious

but always accepting of others’ views. In 1947 during the India-Pakistan war, when India

became two countries, Dadi Amma’s son moved from India to Pakistan. She never prevented

him from going, although he was moving away from the family. She encouraged him to follow

his dreams.

Contributions. RR was influenced by her grandmother’s activism and support of

women’s rights and gender equality. RR was also impressed with her grandmother’s activism

and the role she played in teaching young girls to read and write when such actions were

discouraged in her culture. The culture and geographical location for women in New Delhi,

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