Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Rogers, Elice

Subject Headings

Education, Cooperative -- United States, Interdisciplinary approach in education, Young volunteers in social service -- United States, Student volunteers in social service -- United States, Hurricane Katrina, 2005 -- Social aspects, Hurricanes -- Social aspects -- Louisiana -- New Orleans, volunteer, service learning, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, narrative, young adults, crisis volunteer, urban education


Hurricane Katrina left in her wake one of America's oldest and greatest cities in shambles. In 2011, five years after the storm, New Orleans remains in a state of recovery. Statistics reveal many disaster-related facts attributable to the storm. Life stories, however, can open the windows to the soul, inviting us to better understand the human element of this tragedy. Employing a narrative case study methodology, this study delved into the life stories of three young adults who attended to residents only three weeks after they returned to their homes. Through a series of three interviews with each participant, it explored how their education, social and cultural capital, and family lives prepared them for - and were transformed by their experiences as Hurricane Katrina relief volunteers. Engaging in life narrative method provided understanding of how the crisis volunteer experience was incorporated into the identity of these young adults and how it continues to affect their sense of agency in being active and engaged citizens. The study concludes that mandatory community service and service-learning programs that incorporate education, engagement, and critical reflection, provide foundational learning in civic engagement and foster volunteerism in young adults. The study raises critical questions regarding the role of institutional systems in ensuring equity and access for civic engagement for young adults

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