Emory Report
January 28, 2008
Volume 60, Number 17

2008 Community
Building Fellows

Christopher Brooks
, senior,
political science

Julia Cadwallender, junior,

Johanna Elsemore, senior,

Matthew Grinney
, senior,
political science

Chiemezie Ibekwe, junior,
educational studies

Jim Lu, junior, biology

Tiffany McDonald, senior,

Yae Park, junior,
political science

Shari Sprosta, junior,
political science

Maria Town, junior,
comparative literature

Contessua Walker, junior,
political science, sociology

Emory Report homepage  

January 28, 2008
Fellowship can guide students' life work

By beverly clark

Emory’s newest Community Building Fellows have wide-ranging backgrounds and career aspirations, from health care and law to education, politics and social work. They don’t have much in common, except for a fundamental desire to bring positive change to their communities and gain the skills to do so.

A successful centerpiece of Emory’s Office of University-Community Partnerships, the Emory Community Building Fellowship is a national model for engaged learning programs. It provides undergraduates with an intensive year of training, research and experience culminating in an intensive summer-long practicum working on community initiatives in metro Atlanta.

Junior Shari Sprosta, a political science major, is one of 11 students who make up the sixth class of fellows. With plans to attend law school, Sprosta said she sees the fellowship as a fundamental asset to her future career.

“I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who have been either marginalized or victimized by their environments, but I could never conceptualize fully my task,” she said. “Because the fellowship makes it possible for me to truly delve into diverse communities, I expect to form valuable relationships and gain a clearer picture of my life’s true purpose, and have skills by which to stimulate change.”

Results of past fellows’ work include the completion of 20 projects that have produced policy change and new programs and entities. Fellows also have expanded the capacity of existing community initiatives to effectively address issues such as HIV/AIDS, housing, public education quality, urban sprawl, citizen engagement and more.

“The fellowship is an excellent example of Emory’s engagement with the greater Atlanta community. It provides our students with real world opportunities to learn and practice the skills needed to foster collaborative, cross-sector problem-solving and it provides our community partners with critical resources needed to move their work forward,” says Michael Rich, associate professor of political science and director of the OUCP.

Emory launched the fellowship program, the first of its kind in the United States, in 2001 with a seed gift from fashion executive Kenneth Cole, an Emory alumnus and a former University trustee.
Students selected for the competitive program receive a stipend of $3,500 for their summer community work, a summer housing allowance, 12 hours of academic credit and a summer tuition scholarship.