Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jennifer Mize Smith (Director), Blair Thompson, Angela Jerome

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This research explored how mission trip volunteers assume various roles throughout their volunteer experience. By seeing the various roles that emerge in mission volunteer work, the identities that they construct based upon these roles are revealed. Discovering the ways in which these roles and constructed identities affect the way that mission trip volunteers could potentially help colleges improve their recruitment messages and distinguish themselves from other institutions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to obtain data from the participants, and the data were analyzed through a thematic, constant comparative method. Findings revealed the types of stories heard from other mission trip volunteers prior to serving, the impact of those stories on decisions to volunteer, the various identities that emerge while serving on a mission trip, and how mission trip volunteers make sense of their experiences after serving. This study applies several well-known aspects of organizational communication to the context of mission trip volunteers, offering new and interesting data. This study also provides practical implications for mission trip coordinators and individuals who might be interested in being a mission trip volunteer.


Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Organizational Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication