Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Keith Beard

Second Advisor

Martin Amerikaner

Third Advisor

Pamela Mulder


The purpose of this dissertation was to evaluate how some women in Appalachia create meaning and purpose when faced with challenges, problems, and crises and how they make it through these difficult events. The following research questions informed this research: 1) What role does spirituality play in the process of resiliency; 2) How does a relationship with a higher power enhance a woman’s ability to bounce back from difficult situations; and 3) How do some Appalachian Christian women find meaning and purpose when faced with challenges, problems and crisis and how do they make it through? The study involved collection, compilation, and analysis of qualitative data collected through semi-structured interviews with 5 Appalachian women identified to have experienced at least 3 challenging events that the average person would find to be adverse. Three broad themes emerged which included Support Systems, Self-Efficacy, and Spirituality. Within the broader themes 9 meaningful clusters were identified and included family, social networks, internal locus of control, self-healing, inner strength, purpose, place, faith in a Higher Power, faith development, and faith practices. This research suggests that the spiritual task of creating meaning and purpose is an important aspect of resiliency. Further, the research suggests that a relationship with a higher power enhanced the participant’s ability to bounce back from difficult situations, acted as source of hope and self-acceptance, and helped her to find growth, meaning, and purpose in her life.


Women in religion.

Women - Appalachian Region.

Christian women - Appalachian region.