Raynalde Schagen, Psy.D., is a 2022 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Martha Straus, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Katherine Evarts, PsyD, Committee Member
  • William Hafford, PsyD, Committee Member


youth leadership through adventure, adolescent leadership, relational leadership model, emerging adulthood, interpretive phenomenological analysis, program evaluation

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In this study, I examined the perspectives that emerging adult alums of a program called Youth Leadership Through Adventure (YLTA) have of their adolescent experiences of being a leader. Eight YLTA alums engaged in semi-structured interviews focusing on the research questions: What are the lived experiences of leadership in emerging adult alums of YLTA? What factors of their adolescent involvement were most influential in their emerging adult lives? As a youth development program, YLTA is supported by Adapt and the North Country Health Consortium (NCHC), two nonprofit organizations devoted to improving health conditions and habits of individuals residing in the north country of New Hampshire. YLTA is implemented in middle and high schools in this region. In this dissertation, I describe the components of and evidence base for YLTA. I point to literature that highlights the importance of researching youth development programs and adolescent and emerging adult experiences of leadership. Through both a developmental perspective and the relational leadership model I offer a theoretical framework through which to conceptualize and discuss the findings. I outline the method of recruitment and procedure for the qualitative approach to data collection including an explanation of interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA), and the analysis and interpretation of results. Five clusters of themes surfaced through the analysis. The themes suggest that (a) alums are committed to the program for various reasons, (b) alums gained a sense of self through program participation, (c) YLTA supported multiple aspects of alums’ development, (d) the YLTA culture and community were significant factors in alums’ experiences, and (e) three other aspects of YLTA programming (conferences, its emphasis on reflection, and its timing) were highly influential in alums’ experiences. I discuss the implications of these findings for the YLTA program, limitations of the study, and potential areas for future research.


Raynalde Schagen

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-3638-4598