"In the Eye of a Hurricane": A Narrative Account of the Efforts and Emotions of University Stakeholders Responding to Hurricane Maria

  • Anthony De Jesús University of Saint Joseph
  • Madeline Pérez De Jesús University of Saint Joseph
  • Mary Elizabeth Schone University of Saint Joseph
  • Carolina Acosta University of Saint Joseph
  • Lynnette Colón University of Saint Joseph
  • Michele Maccarone Brophy University of Saint Joseph
Keywords: community disaster, Hurricane Maria, multi-stakeholder collaboration, narratives, trauma

Abstract

Despite the physical distance between Puerto Rico and Connecticut, this narrative describes how a multi-stakeholder group supporting Latinx university student initiatives experienced Hurricane Maria and its aftermath from a distance, on their campus at the University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut. Lyrics written by Puerto Rican playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda provide a compelling metaphorical framework for understanding these experiences and coming to terms with the loss facilitated by both natural and man-made disasters. The authors share their experiences of confronting feelings of fear, loss, guilt, and anger even as they focused on mobilizing a campus response to Hurricane Maria, which included relief, activist, and healing work. They share lessons learned about multi-stakeholder collaboration, and they highlight how they responded to the lack of infrastructure at multiple levels.

Author Biographies

Anthony De Jesús, University of Saint Joseph

Dr. De Jesus is an Associate Professor in the Masters of Social Work program at the University of Saint Joseph.

Madeline Pérez De Jesús, University of Saint Joseph

Madeline Pérez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work and Latino Community Practice at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) in West Hartford, CT. She teaches courses in social work field practice and methods, social welfare policy and Latina women. Her scholarship focuses on school choice, mothering, and community organizing.

Dr. Pérez has worked in the field of family-school relations for 17 years as a social worker, educator, community organizer, consultant, and researcher. In 2005, her participatory research work with a group of Bronx public school mothers in putting together a parent-designed guide to high school admissions was published. She obtained her Masters in Social Work from Hunter College where she also taught courses in community organizing and field seminar as well as coordinated field placements. In 2011, she obtained her PhD in Education at the City University of New York and regularly publishes and presents her findings from her 18-month ethnographic research on how families negotiate public school choice for their children across race and class lines. Last year, she was honored as one of Connecticut Magazine’s 40 Under 40 residents making contributions to the state.

In July 2012, Dr. Perez became the founding director of USJ’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies initiated the Institute for Latino Community Practice, which is committed to preparing students to develop knowledge and best practices to serve the Latino population. The Institute carries out its mission in a three pronged approach: teaching and learning, scholarship and research, and community-building and partnerships.

Mary Elizabeth Schone, University of Saint Joseph

Ms. Schone is a graduate student in Counseling at the University of Saint Joseph. She is also the Graduate Student Assistant to the Institute of Latino Community Practice (I-LCP) at USJ. Ms. Schone is also a pre-school teacher.

Carolina Acosta, University of Saint Joseph

Ms. Acosta is an undergraduate student at the University of Saint Joseph majoring in Nursing. She is the Student Worker for the Institute for Latino Community Practice.

Lynnette Colón, University of Saint Joseph

Ms. Colon is the Director of Campus Minstry at the University of Saint Joseph. She holds a Masters degree in Counseling with a focus on Pastoral Counseling.

Michele Maccarone Brophy, University of Saint Joseph

Ms. Brophy is an Academic Advisor at the University of Saint Joseph and is a social worker.

Published
2019-04-04