The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of African American women in pursuit of doctoral degrees in the southwest, their challenges and motivations, and plans for the their next chapter. Drawing from critical race theory and a sociocultural framework, this qualitative study uses Dan McAdams' Life Story Interview (McAdams, 2005) to explore the journeys of these high achieving minority women and how achievement is conceptualized in their stories. Particular emphasis is placed on their critical events, challenges, and alternative futures. Seven separate themes (parental support and advocacy in early education, improved experiences among other African American students, perseverance through struggles/experiences led to purpose, poor department support, family support, impact of spirituality, and relocation and desire to give back) emerged that address three main research questions. Implications for findings and suggestions for future research are offered.