Former Student: Kelsey Larochelle
Mold everywhere. Furniture upended. Waterlogged books and family pictures. That’s how Kelsey Larochelle describes the scene inside a house in New Orleans where she volunteered with other Hillyer students in a clean-up effort during their spring break.
Larochelle, who graduated from Hillyer in 2006 and then received her bachelor's from the University of Hartford in 2008, says that when the opportunity to help out in New Orleans was introduced by a Hillyer sociology professor, she knew this was something she wanted to do. "I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get involved in something that allowed me to roll up my sleeves and try to make a difference," she says.
Operating from a church within walking distance of the French Quarter, the students’ restoration work included cleaning, gutting, and painting houses. For much of the work they wore hazardous material suits, masks, and gloves.
Trying to make a difference in people’s lives is something Larochelle wants to continue doing as a way of life. She majored in human services in the University's College of Education, Nursing, and Health Professions with the goal of becoming a child life specialist, someone who is specially trained to help children and their families through stressful health-care experiences.
Her time in New Orleans has stayed with Larochelle. "I would love to go back and help some more. The biggest challenge wasn’t the physical work. It was the sadness. It was so hard to know that people couldn’t come home. I can’t imagine not having a home to come back to."