A positive sense of agency is crucial for a successful transition to adulthood. Young women at risk may struggle with a compromised sense of agency due to their backgrounds and daily challenges, potentially delaying them at the stage of emerging adulthood when they are required to become independent. The current paper looks at the development of agency through the experiences of young women at risk who successfully graduated from a National Civic Service (NCS) volunteering program. Thirty alumni of the program were interviewed about their experiences in the program. Participants described the NCS as providing them with a transformative experience, during which they gained a new sense of agency. Three themes emerged, which represent two complementary needs to become normative, and to stand out as unique: Gaining a sense of normalcy and belonging, feeling worthy through others' eyes, and gaining an internalized sense of competency. Implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.
- At-risk adolescents
- National civic service
- Sense of agency
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science