The Summer Service Fellowship provides students with an intensive learning experience that, while rooted in service, is designed to provide the fellows with the opportunity to engage in the Memphis community while learning about issues of social justice and inequity. Summer Service Fellows spend 40 hours a week immersed in the program, with 36 hours spent working at a nonprofit of their choice and the remainder spent in group sessions focused on issues of societal or economic concern to Memphis, such as public transportation, health, and education.
The diversity of the nonprofit locations matches the diversity of the fellows, who come from all academic departments and have varying levels of service experience. Micah Moreland ’20 was drawn to the fellowship out of his desire to commit to service, and for the opportunity it provided for extended mentorship from Sandi George Tracy and Brittney Jackson of Rhodes’ Career Services and Dr. Scott Garner of Greek and Roman Studies, who direct the Summer Service Fellowship program.
What Moreland didn’t realize was that he could find work at a nonprofit that would tie so closely to his international studies major. The DeNeuville Learning Center (DLC) serves as a resource for women of limited resources who are seeking out education, citizenship, and community. The program is geared toward women of all backgrounds and cultures and provides the education and tools necessary to make a positive impact on the students’ futures and families. Volunteers at the center can help students with English as a second language (ESL) tutoring, GED tutoring, child care, and basic job skills training.
Moreland says working for the DLC has been the perfect opportunity to merge his interest in service and multicultural affairs. “I enjoyed learning pieces of different languages and cultures, because the students at DLC come from all over the world.”
Over the summer he has taken on a number of roles at DLC. “In my first five weeks at DeNeuville, I worked as a receptionist, test administrator, teacher’s assistant, and tutor. Since I was involved in so many activities, I was able to understand the operations in and out of the classrooms. Once I became more comfortable in the classroom, my supervisor allowed me to teach classes on my own.”
This is where Moreland says he felt he really could see the difference that service work can make. “Teaching classes was my favorite part of the Summer Service Fellowship, because I was able to see my impact every week based on the growth of the students who I worked with. These women come to DLC with hopes of going to college, getting a better job, gaining the skills to communicate in Memphis outside of their home, and so much more. Helping students gain the confidence and skills to achieve their goals was an incredibly rewarding experience. I learned about the true value and power of education.
“Also, since I was able to teach my own classes, I was able to see the process of education from a different point of view. I think this will help me to better understand my own experiences in the classroom when I return to Rhodes.”
The group sessions with the other fellows also proved beneficial. “Each week, we took field trips to at least two nonprofits around Memphis. The Summer Service Fellowship has exposed me to the many different ways that anyone can serve in Memphis. I’m now aware of many of the nonprofit careers in Memphis that I could potentially pursue.”
In fact, many students make lasting connections with their service locations. “Many students find and follow their passion through the summer fellowship,” says Tracy. “They have an impact on the city and an impact on others on campus—a ripple effect to their friends who are encouraged to have this experience themselves.”
For others interested in the fellowship, Moreland has some advice: be proactive. “The directors of the fellowship are looking for students that are responsible and hard working. Go to potential service sites, meet the staff, and meet the clients if you are able to. The Summer Service Fellowship is a great opportunity to explore the city of Memphis, while gaining experience in a professional setting at a nonprofit.”
By Olivia Doty ’20
The 2018 Summer Service Fellowship class: (back row, L to R)) JB Hayes '19, Dylan Craddock 19, Caroline Perlis '19, Amelia Giancarlo '19, Katie Kuhn '19, William McLain 20, Brenda Fortune '21, Spencer Beckman '19, Devin Dunkley '19, Emma Taylor '20 (student co-ordinator), Emma Collier '21, Zaria Jones '19; (front row, L to R) Jenna Gilley '20, Jordana Terrell '20, Micah Moreland '20, Alex McTaggert '19, Tony Eskridge 20', and Kristen Morris '20.