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Ashford University Group Helps with Hurricane Katrina Project in New Orleans
Group works on two homes during week-long service trip

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005, Ashford University helped the local American Red Cross chapter coordinate a fund-raising drive at the University’s Clinton, Iowa campus. That effort raised thousands of dollars for hurricane relief. But nine years later, parts of New Orleans are still coping with the aftermath of the disaster. To help the city with its ongoing recovery efforts, the Ashford Student Service Advisory Board chose “The Big Easy” as the destination of its spring service trip.

A week after the University’s spring semester ended in May, 22 students and three staff members boarded a bus and headed to New Orleans to partner with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans (YRNO), a group that renovates distressed and foreclosed homes. The finished homes are sold to teachers to stabilize neighborhoods and positively impact the education system.

“The service trip once again exceeded my expectations. I am overwhelmingly proud of our students and the hard work they put into each of our days of service,” said Audra Adams, manager of service learning and the office of service and leadership. “The students respected the needs of the New Orleans community and worked to accomplish all they could, while still taking time to appreciate the unique culture of the area.”

During the week-long service trip, the Ashford group worked on sanding, painting, and trimming at two homes. The group also took a day to appreciate New Orleans culture by taking a swamp tour, eating Cajun food, and visiting the French Quarter.

Annie Chezem, a marketing and public relations major who just graduated from Ashford, said, “Having the chance to go on an all-expense paid service trip is extremely rare for a student and having the opportunity at Ashford is a chance of a lifetime. Partnering with YRNO taught our group so much about the culture, the disaster, and poverty: all in one week’s time. These memories and values are irreplaceable and will help us as students to continue to grow in our personal and professional lives.”

Rebecca Meinema, an education major, shared Chezem’s sentiments. “The service trip to New Orleans was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I am currently studying to be a future educator so it was such a great feeling to know we were working on future educators’ houses to further the education in the New Orleans community. The group and leaders all did such a great job working together to make the service trip a fun and unforgettable experience.”

This was the sixth service trip Ashford’s Office of Service and Leadership has sponsored since March 2012. Other trips have taken students and employees to Joplin, Mo., Chicago, Ill., Toms River, N.J., Moore, Okla., and Washington, Ill.



About Ashford University

Ashford University is defining the modern college experience by combining the heritage of a traditional campus with the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning. The University provides a vibrant learning community where high-quality programs and leading-edge technology create a dynamic, immersive and stimulating learning experience. The University offers practical and progressive associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs online, as well as bachelor’s degree programs at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. Ashford University – where heritage meets innovation. For more information, please visit,,, or call Shari Winet, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.