Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


School of Journalism and Broadcasting

Document Type



The concept of empowerment is critical to the development of youths' ability to recognize themselves as stakeholders in their community and as participants in civic engagement (Kohlfeldt, 2011; Langhout, 2010). However, programs or groups with goals to foster ideals of empowerment face myriad challenges, such as the social and environmental context of the youth, and the status that the youth maintain in their communities (Kohlfeldt, 2011; Langhout, 2010; Zimmerman, 2004). To measure empowerment, the current study draws observations from a focus-group affiliated with a youth-centered community group known as Sal y Luz located in a disadvantaged comuna of Medellin, Colombia. Using photo elicitation, the group took pictures in response to eleven different concepts associated with feelings of empowerment. Then, each participant attended a focus-group discussion of the photos to assist the researcher with photo interpretation. The input from both the photos and the focus group discussions reveal that this particular group displays the ideals of empowerment to a greater extent than anticipated; for example, in response to a prompt regarding the makeup of community, both the photos and related discussion centered on the idea that community is made up of multiple factors, including geographical location, borders, people, job availability and cultural context. The group was quick to note that these are all things that must be taken into consideration when they're planning their next projects, especially the risks that are taken by crossing neighborhood borders. The final product aims to advise Sal y Luz administration regarding some limitations to empowerment identified by the study, as well as allow the author to learn more about youth empowerment associated with an organization that does look exclusively at youth-dedicated issues. Although the study took place in the span of only eight days, such an evaluation process brought on by the study lends support to Sal y Luz's efforts at establishing a more vocal and active youth in an historically violent and complex area of Medellin, Colombia.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Holli Drummond


Ethnic Studies | Photography