Sarah Baker is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee

Kathi Borden, PhD, Committee Chair
William Slammon, PhD, Committee Member
Michael Foot, PhD, Committee Member


positive psychology, character strengths, virtues, at-risk students, at risk adolescents, high school dropouts, high school students

Document Type


Publication Date



The goal of this study was to determine the participants' perceptions about what strengths at-risk students who follow through and graduate from high school have, using the conceptual framework of positive psychology, and its classification system of virtues and character strengths. To reveal the strengths of these students, this study used a qualitative methodology, interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA). In addition, the participants were asked to fill out a Likert scale survey to rate how frequently at-risk students who graduated employed each of the 24 VIA characteristics. The purpose of this study was to add to the under-researched area of identifying the strengths and not the weaknesses of those students at risk of dropping out but made it to graduation. This study should also raise awareness in the field of positive psychology, suggesting that the strengths of this population differ from the general adolescent population.