Friendship Within and Across Borders

Perceptions of Social Networks Among First-Year International Students of Color


  • Kaleb L. Briscoe Mississippi State University
  • Christina W. Yao University of South Carolina
  • Evangela Q. Oates Westchester Community College
  • Jennifer N. Rutt University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Kathleen J. Buell University of Wyoming



international students of Color, social networks, first-year, predominantly white institutions, language


Establishing social networks can be extremely challenging when international students, particularly those of color, move to a new academic and social environment. We examine the perceptions of social networks among first-year international students of color and how these networks affect their experiences at a predominantly White institution (PWI). This study illuminates participants’ relationships with U.S. domestic students and the power of language, culture, and shared experiences through a longitudinal narrative inquiry. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research are described in-depth for practitioners.

Author Biographies

Kaleb L. Briscoe, Mississippi State University

Kaleb L. Briscoe, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership – Student Affairs and Higher Education. Her research agenda focuses on problematizes oppressed and marginalized populations within higher education through critical theoretical frameworks and qualitative methodological approaches. Through her scholarship on campus racial climate, she seeks to disrupt whiteness and white supremacy on predominantly white campuses. Her research shapes administrators, specifically university presidents' responses to race and racism, by challenging their use of anti-Blackness and non-performative rhetoric. 

Christina W. Yao, University of South Carolina

Christina W. Yao, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Program Coordinator for the Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s program at the University of South Carolina. She is a qualitative researcher who primarily studies student engagement and learning in higher education. She operationalizes her research focus through three connected topical areas, including: international/comparative education, teaching and learning, and graduate education. Some current projects include a collaborative study on graduate students’ international scholar-practitioner development, graduate student teaching and learning in Vietnam, and the college transition process for international students of Color.

Evangela Q. Oates, Westchester Community College

Evangela Q. Oates, Ph.D., educator, and adjunct librarian at Westchester Community College, is a recent graduate of the Educational Leadership and Higher Education program in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  For the last 15 years, she has worked in various positions in academic libraries spanning all institutional types. Following a critical constructivist paradigm, her research has primarily used critical frameworks and methodological approaches that center lived experience.  Community colleges, Black faculty and administrators, and academic librarianship are her main research interests.


Jennifer N. Rutt, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Jennifer N. Rutt, Ph.D., is a professional evaluator and qualitative specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research focuses on identity in international education, minority health disparities, qualitative research and evaluation methodology, as well as survey design. Some current projects include exploring how ethnic identity is informed by studying abroad in a country/culture connected to heritage, the college transition process for international students of Color, disparate outcomes for minoritized populations through evidenced-based programming, and how to appropriately and accurately measure gender identity in surveys.

Kathleen J. Buell, University of Wyoming

Kathleen J. Buell, M.A., is a residence life professional at the University of Wyoming. She has worked in a variety of functional areas of student affairs, including study abroad, student conduct, international student support, and residence life. Her current research project includes the first-year transition process for international students of Color, and past research efforts have included the National Peer Educator Survey and the history of living-learning programs on college campuses. Her research interests include women and gender in higher education, professional practice in student affairs, students with multiple marginalities, and student affairs as trauma work.


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How to Cite

Briscoe, K. L., Yao, C., Oates, E., Rutt, J. N., & Buell, K. (2021). Friendship Within and Across Borders: Perceptions of Social Networks Among First-Year International Students of Color. Journal of International Students, 12(1), 195–215.



Research Articles (English)