Cultivating servant leaders

"Free?" asked the man. "Are they really free?" He was staring at a sign outside the Super Giant Community Garden in the Bankhead neighborhood, and Emory student Leandra Lacy had an answer for him. Yes, the vegetables grown here are indeed free.

The garden is a partnership between Emory's Urban Health Initiative and the Super Giant Grocery store to not only deliver messages of healthy eating but also improve access to fresh food in this underserved area of Atlanta. Along with organizations such as CARE, the Southeastern Council of Foundations, and the YWCA, the garden was one of the sites where interns from Emory's Ethics and Servant Leadership (EASL) program worked this past summer.

Offered through the Emory Center for Ethics, the Servant Leader Summer Internship Program gives approximately 30 students the opportunity to learn leadership skills through engagement with businesses, nonprofit groups, and government agencies as they tackle significant challenges in the city. It seeks to animate, advance, and support students as they develop the power to serve and lead for the common good.

Lacy's experience in the garden, for example, brought home life lessons about reducing disparities by empowering community members, an interest that intertwines with her studies in public health. Student Kelsey Peterson interned with the Partnership Against Domestic Violence and helped with safety planning for women who had experienced abuse, and student Viktoriya Seredyuk served as a camp counselor for immigrant high school students as part of the International Refugee Community.

One goal of the program, says EASL Director Edward Queen, is to awaken in students a sense of obligation to the wider community and to become lifelong servant leaders. | Watch YouTube video