Using the case study approach, I interviewed seven student leaders at an evangelical university in the Pacific Northwest. Their common feature, other than attending the same institution, was that they had all experienced tragic or traumatic situations at some point in their lives. In spite of this experience, they were able to display a hopeful outlook on life. The purpose of this study was to discern elements or themes that were common to their stories. I was particularly looking for themes that might explain what helped them move on from their traumatic experiences into a perspective of hope. I anticipated the importance of relationships and community for them. The interviews also confirmed the importance of a personal faith. Not anticipated was the significance of having someone prompting and assisting them to draw meaning from their experience, or to discern some purpose in their experience. These data and observations can inform how educators design communities that will help students who have experienced and are processing traumatic experiences.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_johnstone/1/